Last weekend was the final game day of the 2018/19 Premier League season. The relegation question was answered a few weeks ago with Cardiff City taking the last place despite a 2-0 win at Manchester United and they sink down to the Championship accompanied by Huddersfield Town and Fulham.
The action at the other end of the table was way more exciting but in the end Manchester City came out on top by a point from Liverpool to win back-to-back Premier League titles for the first time since United did it a decade earlier. It was, by all who know the game, the greatest, closest battle for supremacy anyone can remember.
Anyway, it’s over for another season. There’s the transfer merry-go-round to look forward to and then it’s business as usual. Dozens of massively overpaid millionaires who work for 90 minutes a week and then drive home to a six-bedder in a Bentley or Lambo.
But of course it’s not quite like that is it.
Regardless of your views on how much the world’s top footballers earn (and here’s an unofficial breakdown of the top 10 which includes endorsements and other associated stuff)…
- Mesut Ozil (Arsenal) – £350,000/week
- Kylian Mbappe (PSG) – £375,000/week
- Alexis Sanchez (Man Utd) – £497,500/week
- Phillipe Coutinho (Barcelona) – £500,000/week
- Gareth Bale (Real Madrid) – £550,000/week
- Luis Suarez (Barcelona) – £625,000/week
- Neymar Jr (PSG) – £675,000/week
- Antoine Griezmann (Athletico Madrid) – £725,000/week
- Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus) – £1,025,000/week
- Lionel Messi (Barcelona) – £1,825,000/week
…they don’t just show up for an hour and a half a week, do their thing and go home. They are elite athletes who are the very best in the world at what they do. They haven’t lucked into the pro game, they have worked incredibly hard to get to the top and they’ve got the will, desire, talent and perseverance to stay there.
The reason we’re taking football is that this weekend on Football Focus, the brilliantly insightful Alex Scott MBE who played almost 150 games for Arsenal Ladies and won 140 caps for England between 2004 and 2017 said this:
‘Hard work beats talent if talent doesn’t put in the hard work.’
She’s completely, utterly, 100% right.
Talent Gives You A Head Start, Hard Work Makes You A Winner
Even with a head start, many won’t cross the finish line. Some don’t have any sort of head start and regardless of how hard they work, they’ll never make it.
It’s the select few who have the desire, the will, the passion and the ability who win the race.
But, and this is a big but – the race takes as long as it takes. Having talent for something doesn’t prepare you for the work you have to put in to get to the top. Going back to football for a sec, how many times have we seen unbelievably-talented teenagers with seemingly bright futures fade away because they’re either not ready to put the work in or worse, who already think they’re the dog’s with an attitude problem?
Talent is described as ‘the natural ability to be good at something, especially without being taught’ and while talent will make you look good at first, you’ll soon realise that others around you also have talent, so what’s the differentiator?
The answer is simple – hard work. Hard, tough, ugly, tiring, back-breaking, never-knowing-when-the-end-is-coming work.
Talent is a wonderful asset to have but it’s neither necessary nor sufficient.
Hard Work IS A Talent
None of us – or at least very few of us – are perfect human specimens (save for Cristiano Ronaldo probably) but everyone has the ability to work their arses off. People have phenomenal capacity and it’s amazing just how much you can accomplish with hard work but it’s equally amazing just how few people are prepared to do it.
In fact, the ability to work hard is a largely underrated talent but a talent nevertheless. Most of us think of talent as something innate, unteachable or unique. Either you have it or you don’t, right?
Well yes, that’s true in part but being able to work hard is a talent that can be learned, developed and honed.
Fixed Mindset vs Growth Mindset
Even at the highest levels, many of the most talented in their fields never took the time to learn how to cope when faced with real challenges, that their talent was enough and would take them through and this is acute when it comes to very smart kids.
Take your mind back to your school days. There was always one exceptionally talented kid in your class who got straight As and seemed to breeze through. The thing is, it worked until they hit a wall and found something that wasn’t so easy. Rather than get their head down and graft, they conclude that they were simply not clever enough to do it – whatever ‘it’ is.
They believe their ability is fixed. They do what they do and can do no more.
The hard worker on the other hand gets to work on the difficult stuff and slogs through it until a solution is found.
They believe their ability can grow.
If we’re honest, none of us like being faced with problems we don’t think we can handle or overcome and many, as we’ve said, will put it to one side for another day or not bother at all. But if you can attack it with a growth mindset and a high stress tolerance you will be well-compensated.
The Only Talent You Need Is…
…being talented at working hard. In fact if you’re willing to work harder than anyone else you will be forever in high demand.
Let’s leave the last word to Ed Latimore a curious fusion of heavyweight boxer, physics graduate and deep thinker –
‘Be grateful when something doesn’t come easy to you. It forces you to learn the value of hard work. When life becomes a battle of attrition, only those who have learned the value of hard work over talent will be left standing.’
Catch you soon.