—by Neil Kennedy

There are things you can do that will elevate you beyond what talent alone can do. Over the years, I’ve seen an antipodal effect to success, namely those with the most talent are often the most unsuccessful and those with the least talent become extremely successful. How is it possible those with the most potential are often sidelined or have marginal success? I live with the conviction that every man has talent, a divine deposit, a skill set that may seem common to him, yet would be exceptional for others. However, even if you have identified your unique talent, there are things you can do that will elevate you beyond what talent alone can do. It comes down to character. Character trumps talent when it comes to success. 

Here are 10 things you can do to succeed that require no talent:

1. Be on time
Time is a currency. It is equally dispersed to all of us to have 24 hours—1440 minutes—to steward each day. Being late for work or for a meeting is equivalent to theft. Those minutes can’t be returned. They’re gone forever. Being timely communicates that you not only value the persons with whom you are working or meeting, but it also demonstrates your mastery over contrary conditions and interruptions. It shows that you have dominion over your circumstances.

The only thing you can’t get back
Perhaps you’ve heard the old expression, “A dollar waitin’ on a dime.” It infers that the more important or valuable is waiting on the less important and less valuable.

Timely anecdote
A naive young man asked a very successful man if he could have some of the man’s time to discuss the ideas and dreams that he had for his life. The successful man generously agreed to do so. Amazingly, the young man showed up for the appointment 10 minutes late. Flippantly apologising, the novice excused himself. The seasoned man said, “Young man, you’ve stolen my time. Therefore, I have none left to give to you. Goodbye.”

Action Step:
Calculate what your time is actually worth. Divide it down to the minute. This will give you a very clear picture of how much your time is worth, and will prompt you to think about what you’re spending it on.

2. Hustle
I learnt very quickly in life that you can make up for a lack of skill simply by putting a lot of effort behind your work. Solomon said, “Using a dull axe requires great strength.” – Eccl. 10:10. He furthers encourages us to “sharpen the blade.” Until we can sharpen our skill set, we should use all of our strength to work hard. When we put extra energy and effort behind what we do, we show seriousness towards our work and once again honour the currency of time.

3. Effort
Complementary to working with hustle is to put effort to your work. Effort is applying hustle to your mental game. It is the ability to co-ordinate your mental faculties with your physical capabilities. It is a “practice makes perfect” mentality, not willing to settle for just getting by.
Why are you putting in effort?
Putting effort into your work shows you’re engaged in what you’re doing. If effort is the key, continual effort provides the grooves and notches that make the key work. Most men fail in their efforts because they are not consistent in those efforts. Our efforts must have tenacity behind them if we’re going to see the results we want.

4. Body language
It is said that 80 percent of our communication is understood through our body language. How we position ourselves, how we hold our arms or use our hands, the expressions of our face, raising eye-brows or frowning the forehead, all have significance in what we’re saying.

Culture is adapting
So much of our communication is body language that we have begun to use emojis in our digital messages to make up for the lack of it. I’ve noticed when I am on a business phone call that if I stand up during the call I project better with my words. I’ve also realised that I prefer Facetime or Zoom meetings over voice only because I am able to connect with the conversation better with fewer distractions. 

5. Energy
We’ve discussed hustle and effort, but there is a distinguishable difference between those and applying energy to our work. Using energy, we gain the momentum and inertia of our work to propel us. The synergy of effort and hustle creates the energy to get things done. At some point, it’s as if the work is self-powered. Obviously, we believe in cause and effect, meaning that without hustling and divine effort, we would never gain the momentum.
Look to Paul’s example
In 2 Timothy 1:6, the apostle Paul advised his protégé, Timothy, to remember to “fan into flame the gift of God” that was within him. A flame or fire is both literal and figurative when applied to energy. Paul was saying that you must increase your energy for the gift to reach its potential. Are you gaining the momentum of your efforts? Are you turning up the heat?

6. Attitude
Your attitude is the emotion that you display towards doing the work you are undertaking. People hear your words, but feel your attitude. Attitude is a huge player in your success. If you’re in sales and you don’t believe in your product, you’re not going to sell your product. People won’t believe in your product because they don’t believe you. Albert Einstein said, “Weakness of attitude is a weakness of character.” The genius equates a poor attitude with a character flaw.

Skill isn’t everything
I fired an employee 15 minutes before he was to go on stage because of his habitual poor attitude. He was arguably one of the most talented employees that I’d ever hired, yet he was also the most carnal-minded, meaning that he allowed his emotions to completely control his behaviours. I couldn’t allow him to continue because his attitude was an emotional virus—infecting everyone.

7. Passion
Passion is more than attitude; it is enthusiasm for your purpose. Passion brings excitement to work. It elevates a man’s labour into a vocation—what we call a ‘divine calling.’ We transform ourselves and our work environment when we bring passion into our work ethic. When a player on the field brings passion to the game, he can literally be the game-changer. It’s what separates champions from amateurs. The question for us to consider is, “Are we bringing our best to our vocation?”

8. Learning
It is foolish to think that we can navigate life without the discipline of life-long learning. John Wooden said, “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.” A recipe for ignorance is to be satisfied with your own opinions and content with your own knowledge. At different men’s events and conferences, I’ve had a few men come by my book table and while they thumb through one of my books, they jokingly say, “I don’t read.” To be transparent, it is a pet-peeve of mine to hear men say something that demeans themselves. Some men have accepted the lie that asserts that men don’t read. I find that ridiculous. Leaders are readers. The average American begins one book a year and doesn’t finish it. The average millionaire reads one non-fiction book a month.

9. 110 Percent—The extra mile mentality
Most people want an excellent life with eighty-percent effort. That’s just not going to happen. The extra mile mentality goes beyond being a finisher, it doubles the effort. In the Parable of the Talents, Jesus teaches that two employees put the master’s money to work and doubled his fortune. The boss not only acknowledged the men’s accomplishments, but invited them to share in his happiness and gave both of them a promotion in his company. When we excel, we stamp whatever we touch with our DNA. Whatever we do, we should do with all of our strength. I don’t want to represent mediocrity. I want the distinction of going the extra mile. I want to represent Christ in all that I do. Don’t you?

10. Opportunity
When the army of Israel lined up on the field of contest against the Philistines, they saw a crisis. The undisputed champion fighter named Goliath would raise his booming voice to ridicule them and blaspheme God. The king’s reward promised wealth, tax freedom, and a royal lineage. Yet no one took the bait because no one had prepared themselves for such a challenge. However, when David arrived, he was prepared for the opportunity. David saw the crisis as an opportunity in disguise. He had fought a lion and won. He had killed a bear. He considered the giant no greater a threat.

Are you prepared?
Success is often one step away from seizing an opportunity. However, you can’t seize an opportunity if you’re not prepared. That would be presumptuous. I’ve seen entrepreneurs jump into a crisis without preparing for it, only to fail miserably. The difference maker is being prepared for the opportunity when it comes.

To be successful, you must rest
God has an incredible work ethic. You may think that is stating the obvious, but I want to emphasise that His work ethic also came with rest—each evening and one day of the work week. Motivated men are driven to succeed. Often one of the casualties of an insatiable drive to work is getting enough rest and recouping for the next week of work.

Article source: JOY! Magazine (Feb/March 2019)

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