Here’s a truth that we’ve somehow completely lost as a society:  if you knew how to do something already it wouldn’t be a risk.

It wouldn’t be new.

It wouldn’t be innovative or creative or fascinating or fun!

When we think about creative geniuses like Steve Jobs, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jim Henson, Oprah Winfrey, and even Amelia Earhart we have this image of someone whose talent is so extreme that they triumph over the competitive odds of their industry with ease. We think that their great ideas hit them like lightning, fully formed, and ready for commercial release.  

Perfect pitch, delivered at birth!

Crazy coding skills, learned overnight!

This just isn’t how it goes.  People who are very successful (including very successful entrepreneurs) need all three of these traits:

  1. Passion, curiosity, enthusiasm, and love for the work
  2. Hard work, persistence, audacity, focus, and tenacity
  3. The ability to withstand the disappointment of failure

Do you see how talent, or God-given ability, isn’t on the list?  

That’s because everyone has some kind of God-given ability, but not everyone is very successful.  

Most very successful people trade blood, sweat, and tears for every iota of progress they make.

I find the whole question of how much impact talent plays in one’s likelihood of success to be mostly irrelevant. We are who we are and worrying about where other people started feels like an excuse to stay stuck. Instead, let’s start where we are, use what we have, and do what we can.

If we do, we’ll be in really, really good company.

Amelia Earhart

The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.

The more one does and sees and feels, the more one is able to do, and the more genuine may be one’s appreciation of fundamental things like home, and love, and understanding companionship.

Steve Jobs

I’m convinced that about half of what separates successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.

Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.

Lin-Manuel Miranda

Anytime you write something, you go through so many phases. You go through the ‘I’m a Fraud’ phase. You go through the ‘I’ll Never Finish’ phase. And every once in a while you think, ‘What if I actually have created what I set out to create, and it’s received as such?

Jim Henson

“If you care about what you do and work hard at it, there isn’t anything you can’t do if you want to.”

“The only way the magic works is by hard work. But hard work can be fun.”

Oprah Winfrey

Do the one thing you think you cannot do. Fail at it. Try again. Do better the second time. The only people who never tumble are those who never mount the high wire. This is your moment.

What do all of these traits have in common? They are better done, nurtured, and supported in community!

I would love for you to join us in the Great Work Community!

About the author

Dr. Amanda Crowell is a cognitive psychologist and business coach who helps accidental entrepreneurs get more clients and have a bigger impact. She is the author of Great Work, the host of the Unleashing Your Great Work podcast, and the creator of the Great Work Journals. Amanda's TEDx talk has received almost two million views and has been featured on TED's Ideas blog and Ted Shorts. Her ideas have also been featured on NPR, Al Jazeera, The Wall Street Journal, Quartz, and Thrive Global.