Are You Destined for Greatness?

violin-newHave you ever wondered what make some people wildly successful, others just middle of the road mediocre and  some just, well really bad at what they do?

Are the super successful achievers bestowed  some special divine gift? Some inborn or innate ability? Is there such a thing as a natural born leader? Have you ever wondered what category you fit in?  Are you destined for greatness?  I could be wrong, but I imagine that any of us putting ourselves out there want to achieve some level of success, giving our greatest performances.

The Reality and Great “Secret” of Success

I was so lit up yesterday by an interview that I heard on the Unmistakable Creative podcast with Geoff Colvin who wrote a few books on the topic. His questions began with  . . . What makes Tiger Woods great? What made  Chairman Warren Buffett the world’s premier investor? We think we know: Each was a natural who came into the world with a gift for doing exactly what he ended up doing. As Buffett told Fortune not long ago, he was “wired at birth to allocate capital.” It’s a one-in-a-million thing. You’ve got it – or you don’t.

Well, it’s not so simple. For one thing, you do not possess a natural gift for a certain job, because targeted natural gifts don’t exist. (Sorry, Warren.) You are not a born CEO or investor or chess grandmaster. You will achieve greatness only through an enormous amount of hard work over many years. And not just any hard work, but work of a particular type that’s demanding and painful.

Read the entire Fortune article here and it turns out that Colvin was inspired by a study about daily demanding deliberate violinist practice  that pushed them just a bit each day. Just a bit. You can read the original study on deliberate practice here.

The take away for me (and I would love your opinion). You will achieve greatness only through an enormous amount of hard work over many years. And not just any hard work, but work of a particular type that’s demanding and painful. Great performances are available to all of us with daily deliberate practice.

Two books on my list to read this month –

Geoff Colvin  Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else and Humans Are Underrated: What High Achievers Know That Brilliant Machines Never Will



  1. I so agree!!! I was one of those who had a real talent in writing but I kept on reading and reading instead of writing and writing… I also was gifted for arts in general but never exploited them… I guess in some way I prefered to be the guy who could have been…Instead of being the guy who really tried to be but failed… All of this because of my (excessive) pride. I know now that it is better to try and fail than to not try and let people think you could have been… I was so relying on ”being a natural” and when I was young it worked but now those same people I surpassed have surpassed me. I am now on a very late start but better late then never!!!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I have MANY passioons!! As you can see on my blog they are mostly centered on arts. I would so be honored if you would read the post I made about Alex Soria! I’m sure you willl like his solo album called Next of Kin. His brother Carlos was his only family. After Alex tragic death Los was devastated!! He is now doing ok…The Nils just made a new album (Carlos was part of The Nils of course!!)

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  2. I completely agree with this post. I think it’s true that greatness stems from repeated, consistent, dogged hard work. It takes working towards your greatness every single day. I sometimes feel that to call people “naturals” is a tad insulting. It robs them of all their hard work, their perseverance, and the belief in this inherent greatness is what robs the rest of us of our ability to become great as well. The belief becomes “well, I’m not one of those talented people so why bother. I’m not even going to try.”
    It makes us weak, it makes us lazy. Of course I’m sure that Yo Yo Ma had more natural talent at playing the cello than say, gymnastics, but it doesn’t mean he just woke up one morning being the best cellist of all time. He played and played and played. Every day. Even when he was tired. Even when he was sick. He worked bloody hard.
    What I will say, is that some of us are perhaps born with more of that determined, focussed nature than others. Some people have a natural drive, a natural perseverance, while others are more troubled by fears and doubts. I don’t mean that great people don’t have fears and doubts, they do. But they have a more natural ability to overcome them
    Some of us are natural born fighters; others of us have to fight to be fighters.

    Liked by 1 person

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