Talent Versus Tenacity

Robert Terson

In a recent guest post by my friends Richard Fenton & Andrea Waltz, authors of Go for No, a video was included entitled Talent Versus Tenacity. I hope you’ll take a moment to watch it here. So impressed was I with this video and the question it tackles, that I thought I’d throw my two cents into the equation with a follow-up blog.

One of my favorite quotations—I’ve offered it up many times on this site—is from President Calvin Coolidge: “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘press on’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

Tenacity is another word for persistence, my friends. I believe, like the many people interviewed in the video, tenacity is far more relevant than talent. Thomas Edison said, “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Accordingly a genius is often merely a talented person who has done all of his or her homework.”

As I’ve said so many times on this site: Most people see themselves as ordinary, but see others of great achievement as extraordinary. They believe these other people are far more talented, and therefore more deserving of success. But another of my favorite quotations, from the Reverend Bob Richards, states, “Every day ordinary people do extraordinary things.” Sure, there are some of us who are blessed with amazing talent—a Mozart, for example—but they are the exceptions to the rule.

I’m pushing 69 years old and I’m often complimented on my “writing talent,” “storytelling ability.” Now that’s very gratifying, but the truth is when I decided I wanted to be a writer, which was about 35 years ago, I didn’t know a damn thing about what it takes to be an entertaining writer; really, I made the decision and then forged ahead with aggressive ignorance. In the beginning I didn’t know a semicolon from a dash, boring from fascinating, but I was determined to succeed. I wrote three novels. All three were learning experiences. If you were to read any of them (trust me, you’re not going to!), you’d laugh your behind off; that’s how amateurish they are. But, along with the studying and other writing I did, I kept progressing. Now here I am, all these years later, with a blog, a book published, and plans to begin a novel after the first of the year—a novel I have high hopes for.

In my About on this site, it says, “Everything I’ve ever accomplished in this life has come via the School of Hard Knocks.  If I only had one word to sum up who I am, it would be ‘Relentless’; and my hope is to make you just as relentless.”

Tenacity, my friends; it’s far more important than the degree of talent you have. You can learn anything, accomplish anything, if you’re tenacious enough, if you’re willing to hang in there long enough, willing to do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes.

Are you?