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The Two Most Important Components to Success

By Wes Berry

Talent and Skill. The marriage of these two components will lead to success in sports, business and in life. Let me explain:

Talent is a gift, and although all people possess gifts, they may not be recognized or properly valued. And this is a major problem. Ponder for a moment how many talented musicians were never exposed to musical skills. How many natural-born athletes were never enrolled in competitive sports. How many leaders never had the chance to lead. Talent is a gift, often hidden, and it’s something to look for when growing your business. Talent has become so important to businesses that we are now seeing titles in companies such as Chief Talent Officer and VP of Talent Acquisition.

So what exactly is talent in the work place, and what does it look like? When hiring employees, I look for these three things that signal talent:

1. Innovation: Are they creative thinkers with new ideas?
2. Relationship Building: How good are they with people? This is especially important in Marketing and Sales.
3. Integrity: Do they deliver on their promises, stick to deadlines, and mean what they say?

And in my opinion, the two other—and possibly most valuable—talents are intelligence and personality type. Some may argue that personality is a skill, however I’m of the opinion that base personality is more in the area of talent. That’s not to say that both personality and intellect can’t be enhanced by specific skill development, targeted to these areas. Which leads me to my next point: skill.

Skill is the other thing to look for. But what is the difference between talent and skill?. Newborns all seem to have an innate ability to swim—this is perhaps the easiest example of talent. Why than do so many children and adults not know how to swim? Simply because the necessary skills to develop and maintain the gift (talent) of swimming were not introduced.

Therefore, we can conclude, that skills are even more important than talent. But you need both to succeed. Without training and practice, your talent will never turn into skill. Malcolm Gladwell discusses this fact in his book The Outliers, suggesting that it takes 10,000 hours to master your talent. Even raw intelligence is no guarantee of success; in fact it is surprising how many intelligent individuals fail to develop the skills to engage that intellect. Sinichi Suzuki believed in Talent Education, (i.e. mastering a skill) and that any child could learn to play the violin given the right instruction and practice.

Skills are talents that have been honed. They are abilities that people have worked hard to develop through training or experience. Some important skills to consider in hiring are:
1. Communication: If you can’t communicate your ideas it doesn’t matter how good they are.
2. Team Building: Can they pull together the help that they need to accomplish the goal?
3. Time Management: Time is money. How organized are they?
4. Problem Solving: I call this a Rowan talent. If there’s a problem, can they fix it without hand-holding?
5. Digital literacy: Do they know their way around a computer?

Skills and talent combine to make an essential element to success.

The real magic occurs when you engage these talents and skills in a productive manner. Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is an excellent example of what can happen when a talent (which some consider a disorder) is properly aligned and augmented with appropriate skills. With the proper leveraging of ADD, it can provide unconventional perspectives and observations that can identify winning strategies. Simply stifling this talent is often both impractical and darn right wasteful. Of course, if the individual lacks the intellect to engage the necessary skills a more traditional approach may be more appropriate.

Ambition can sometimes be looked upon as a less desired personality trait. But in the right hands, ambition can be the catalyst for a goal-setting ideal.

So what! How can I apply this rant? Jim Collins, in his book Good to Great, had a wonderful example “Get the right people in the right seats on the bus and get the wrong people off the bus”. He of course was speaking metaphorically using the bus to represent any endeavor or enterprise. You need to identify your skills and not be afraid that they might be viewed by society as a disorder. Instead develop the skills to bring out the best and recognize those innate gifts as talents instead of liabilities. Doing so will give you the added advantage of being an outlier and enhance your opportunities.

Be who you really are and grow those talents with skill sets that will deliver success. Avoid changing who you are; rather harness your talents for the positive. If you’re addicted to bad habits, re-channel your addictive personality for good habits. It’s really pretty simple.

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Wes Berry is a keynote speaker and the bestselling author of the book Big Things Have Small Beginnings. His business career began in a $60-thousand-dollar-a-year failing family flower shop in Detroit, from which he built a $60-million-dollar international company with more than $750 million dollars in sales. Wes can be contacted at wes@wesberrygroup.com or you can learn more at his website www.wesberrygroup.com.