Breaking the Myth Surrounding the "10 Things That Require Zero Talent"

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The 10 things that require zero talent have been widely publicized and shared, so much so that some have come out and said these things do require talent. Tom Gimbel of TIME is one of those people.

I suppose it depends how you choose to look at it and the mindset you have, but in my opinion, that’s a load of crap.

Do They Actually Require Talent?

Those who say these things do require talent and must be learned, my argument is that literally every single thing in this life is learned. You don’t come out of the womb with a basic knowledge of how the world works; everything is taught and learned.

What the 10 things that require zero talent really are, in their most basic sense, are a set of principles for success. Your mindset is your most powerful tool and these principles will prove to be basic beliefs that propel you to the next step of your career.

The reason this list came out is most likely because of the small percentage of people who actually put them into action. Someone, somewhere, was tired of people being late, lazy and unprepared. I question the true intent of the naysayers arguing these things require talent. They’re either completely over thinking it or looking for publicity.

Seriously, is being on time really a talent?

The 10 Things that Require Zero Talent

1. Being On Time

Punctuality has become a large issue in recent years it seems. People always say they’re going to be somewhere at a certain time then show up late.

Our society has bred acceptance in some bad areas. Being late is disrespectful, but often viewed as “not a big deal.” It requires planning, which Tom says is a skill. I’m sorry, but planning is not a skill, especially today. All you have to do is open Waze to check traffic or the Weather App to check weather. Those not good at planning simply don’t think about it. I can’t remember an individual winning an award for being the best planner, or a company rewarding an employee for their ability to plan ahead to be on time to work.

Being on time is a life lesson that is learned very early in life, not a skill or craft.

2. Work Ethic

Some will argue work ethic and effort are the same. I completely disagree. Work ethic is your desire – effort is how hard you work.

Having a work ethic means that you know what is important to you; it means you’re willing to put forth the time and energy, and it’s based on your personal core values. TIME says work ethic is like exercising, “You think running 4 mph on the treadmill at no incline is a workout – until you realize you can go 7.5 mph at a level-three incline. It’s about endurance, comparison and drive”.

Isn’t drive a synonym for work-ethic and effort?

Explain how having “drive” takes talent. It doesn’t, it’s a mindset. Anyone in the world can have an exceptional work ethic, not everyone can play in the NFL.

3. Effort

Hopefully you see the difference already. Effort is how hard you work and your work ethic determines what’s important for you to put your effort into based on your core values. How many people can honestly say they give 100% effort each and every day? Very few I would assume. It’s hard and that’s okay.

Understand the little things make the big things, and every little thing counts. One of my favorite quotes is from Al Pacino in Any Given Sunday. His locker room speech about the margin for error being so small is incredible. He talks about the inches we need being all around us and, “On this team we fight for that inch, because we know when we add up all those inches, that’s going to make the difference between winning and losing; between living and dying.”

Any Given Sunday Movie

The point is to understand everything is a process and it’s the narrowest of margins that determine the outcome. It’s a matter of inches that lead to your promotion or it going to the next guy.

4. Body Language

There’s two items I believe someone could argue that require talent, body language is one. Your body language speaks volumes; it can speak languages you can’t. I can communicate with someone who doesn’t speak the same language as me just from my body language. That person will be able to read my attitude and my feelings about the conversation.

Your body language has an impact on most of your daily activities.

Anyone in the meeting can tell whether or not you want to be there. Your husband or wife will be able to tell whether or not you had a good day at work the second you walk through the door. It’s critical your body language and tone convey the message you want to portray. This will help you display an image of confidence. Body language can also kill a sale for you, here’s 5 mistakes you don’t want to make with your body language.

If there’s ever a time the saying “fake it until you make it” applies, it’s now.

5. Energy

This is one of my three favorites, all of which happen to coincide with one another. Energy is a very underrated characteristic.

You see people at work show up every day looking like a bag of dog poop, not wanting to be there.This starts with their mindset. Think about how much better things could be if they would simply put on a smile and try to act excited to be there.

If they had a little “bounce” and enthusiasm in what they were doing, maybe they wouldn’t be so damn miserable. The TIME article talks about people with sleeping disorders and those who need to be calmed down, that’s not remotely what this list is referencing. Have some pride in your work and life. If you believe in what you’re doing, energy should come natural because you’re excited.

Energy is contagious and it empowers people in a positive way – be that power.

6. Attitude

My absolute favorite. I cannot tell you how much a bad attitude pisses me off.

We all have things that upset us or affect us; it happens.The person who undoubtedly finds the worst in something is who I’m referencing.

I once had a rep on my team that consistently laid goose eggs, and I’ll be damned if he didn’t put forth more effort and energy with a better attitude than the most successful people in the company. We all respected him greatly for his happy-go-lucky personality, persistence and attitude to keep trying.

We had a morning standup each day where we’d call out our numbers for the previous day and what we’re doing today. He’d throw up zeros from the previous day and enthusiastically talk about his sales goals and how he was going to achieve them today.

Every single person believed he’d outsell even the greatest reps by a mile. He’d lay goose egg after goose egg, but the attitude, energy and conviction he had made you believe it. You just couldn’t tell yourself it wasn’t going to happen.

If you take anything away from this, make it attitude. There’s not a single person in the world who can fault you for living life like that.

7. Passion

Passion rounds out my favorites. There’s something about a person who has such a deep conviction in what they’re doing; it’s indescribable. We’re passionate about things we love to do. We learn what we like as we have different experiences. Our mind literally tells us when we like and want more of something.

Albert Einstein doing math

Passion can’t be a talent because it’s not learned. Despite my teacher’s best effort, I hate algebra.

Albert Einstein himself couldn’t make me passionate about the subject.

Passion is something that speaks to you.

Don’t ever be embarrassed about displaying your passion; it will enhance the other things on this list and become infectious among the people who surround you.

8. Being Coachable

Like most on this list, being coachable starts at an early age. Being coachable requires you to humble yourself and accept room for improvement. It’s one of the fastest ways to achieve success. You have to be open to constructive criticism.

By doing so, you’re telling people you want to get better. The sales reps showcasing their gigantic ego are essentially alienating themselves from the best minds. Being coachable is the only other item on this list that could be considered a skill because you have to learn how to accept feedback positively.

Let’s call a spade, a spade; some people think their crap smells like roses. That in and of itself is crap.

Some people think like this because they view coaching as a personal attack. Their narrow mindset limits them. This definitely depends on the person delivering feedback and their ability to be constructive. It’s much easier to do the coaching when you have facts and not assumptions. Something like a sales activity tracker or a sales dashboard will provide ample opportunities for coaching.

Coachable individuals are able to receive poorly delivered messages and comprehend the underlying message. You don’t have to use every piece of advice given, but keep an open mind and take the best parts from each person. Regardless of what you use, have the decency to be respectful without getting defensive.

9. Doing Extra

You must have the passion to succeed because no one gets by doing the bare minimum; it just doesn’t happen. If you have the work ethic, energy and passion then doing extra will just come along with it.

One example that comes to mind is that of an old employee of mine.  He wanted to be in a leadership role and rather than expect it based on tenure (dang millennials!) he went above and beyond his job duties to take on extra tasks outside of work to help the team progress forward. This guy did a TON of work that wasn’t asked of him and never complained about it.  He knew what he wanted and was willing to do extra to get it. In the end it was a win-win because the company got some much needed tasks done and he got leadership experience and built huge trust.

The more you do, the more people are willing to help you in return.

This coincides with reciprocity and liking from the six principles of persuasion. Reciprocity says people are more likely to return the favor when you’ve done something for them first. Liking means people like to do business with people they like.

10. Being Prepared

Being prepared simply means thinking ahead. Reminds me of my days as a Boy Scout where our motto was, “Always Be Prepared.”

Boy Scout - Be Prepared

Pay attention to the details and have a strong sense of awareness.

Whether you need to plan for a business meeting or arrive somewhere on time, you should be in the habit of noticing the small things: is there an obvious question that will be asked that you should have a response for, or is it going to rain tomorrow during your hour-long commute?

It’s the details in everything you do that you should account for. It’s easy to plan for the main event, but it’s what leads up to and follows the main event that separates the good from the great.


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