This article elaborates why belief is more important than talent and how to become good at something without having talent.

You might be avoiding going after your passion because you think you don’t have talent. You look at the successful athlete or artist and think “they were born with that“, “they practiced for years already“. This makes it so that you feel intimidated and you never get started yourself. Staying in the misery of not living your purpose makes you feel worse and worse over time.  “Talent” became the excuse to not get started.

People who don’t have any talent but the belief in themselves that they can achieve whatever it is that they want, with enough time and practice, often get exactly what they want. Furthermore, they not rarely outgrow talented people and become even better than them. Why is that?

Talent definition

Talent is a natural ability to be good at something, especially without being taught.

The word “talented” has been widely used to describe athletes, business people or creatives who are on top of their game. There seems to be this myth around talent that makes people believe that all it took for the athlete or artist to be successful was talent. But this cannot be further from the truth. What very successful people achieved was because either was true:

  1. the person had a natural talent, practiced for years and had a belief in themselves
  2. the person had no natural talent, practiced for years and had a belief in themselves.

No one is successful just because of talent. With talent, there always came practice and belief in oneself. Or without talent, there was practice and belief in oneself. So what exactly is a belief and how can we use a belief to become good at something?

Belief definition

A belief is the feeling of being certain that something exists or is true.

The driving force of your behavior is beliefs. What you think about other people, the world in general, economics, money, dating, marriage, kids, are all beliefs. Most of your beliefs got “installed” in childhood. Whenever your parents told you something about the world (“life is hard”), yourself (“you are too old for this“) or other people (“you can’t trust anyone”) repeatedly, it became a belief. Also, whenever you “learned a lesson” through (traumatic) experience or you observed something repeatedly, you formed a belief.

Beliefs not only dictate what you experience but they also dictate how you interpret what you experience. From these interpretations stem your actions. When it comes to learning a skill any negative belief will be detrimental and any positive beneficial. In the following, you will see examples of beneficial and detrimental beliefs for skill development.

Detrimental and beneficial beliefs for skill development

Detrimental Beliefs Beneficial Beliefs
I am not good enough. I am exactly where I need to be.
I can never be as good as ___. There is always something to learn from other people.
It takes hard work and sacrifice to be successful. With enough time and practice, I can achieve anything.

Be aware that beliefs are not always stored as exact sentences or words but often as experiences, feelings, likes, and aversion or automatic conclusions in your mind.

Now that you understand belief better, let’s look at why belief is more important than talent and after you’ll learn the steps for how to become good at something without having talent.

Why belief is more important than talent

1. Talent is inherent, belief is (and can be) developed

Talent is something that you were lucky to get. No matter if it is artistic talent, business talent or athletic talent, you are lucky if you inherit the talent that matches your interests. Belief, on the other hand, has more to do with your early surroundings than with your natural ability. One can argue, that you had no control over your early surroundings (such as caregivers, family and friends) who installed your beliefs, but the difference is that you have control over your beliefs now.

As a conscious and (hopefully) self-reflective being, you have the power to identify and change your beliefs. On top of that, you can install new beliefs that benefit your skill development (see table above “Detrimental and beneficial beliefs for skill development”). Furthermore, an athlete or artist can have a lot of talent but detrimental beliefs that are inhibiting skill development. If the person is not self-reflective and not working on these beliefs, it is unused talent.

Talent, if unused, does not bring mastery and success.

2. Talent makes arrogant, belief makes humble

When someone discovered their talent, they likely noticed their superior performance or other people noticed it and told them. The problem is that over time, this person can become closed to learning because their natural talent makes them believe they know it all. Thus they rely on their skills too much and are closed to learning (from others) and improving.

You, on the other hand, who does not have talent but belief, focus on learning and improving because you know that there is no talent that you can rely on. Everything about a craft you chose has to be learned from scratch and has to be constantly improved. You are open to constant improvement and learning (from others).

3. The talented practice in the morning, the believers through the night

The talented that rely on their talent too much, practice less. They know they are already good at something so they need to put less time and energy into improving.

You, not having the greatest talent but a belief in yourself, know that you NEED to practice, otherwise you can never become better than the talented. This makes you work extra hard, practicing night and day. Interestingly, the strong work ethic and dedication to practice pay off as soon as you outgrow the talented on your way to world-class. And this is where you learned that practice beats talent.

If you take one thing with you from this whole article then it is the following:

You can master any skill with deliberate consistent practice, no matter how talented you are. 

Let the process motivate you

Getting started with your practice, no matter how little talent you have, is the key to all mastery. Learning and improving day by day believing that you can make it, is the only thing you need. The process itself is self-motivating. As you see your progress, you will become more and more motivated to keep going. No need for a motivational video or an inspiring book. You will see regular improvement with your own eyes as you practice consistently!

Any skill can be mastered- 5 Steps to become good at something without talent

1. Practice self love 

Love your flaws and weaknesses, they are about to become your greatest strengths.

(remember: every disadvantage makes you push harder)

Self Love is a key ingredient in skill development. Especially considering that you will stumble upon flaws and weakness of yours that can leave you discouraged. In these moments it is important to practice self love. Accepting that you are on a journey and you are on that journey to learn.

2. Work on your beliefs 

Look closely at what beliefs you hold about a certain craft, the process of mastery and about yourself. Look your upbringing and see what direct or indirect messages you got about skill development. Were your parents always struggling or complaining when starting something new? Were they naturally good at something?

Investigate where your beliefs come from and how they are detrimental or beneficial to your skill development. Also, do some research for reprogramming the subconscious mind to install new beneficial beliefs (send an email to lorelle@lorelledehnhard.com for guidance on this).

3. Practice deliberately and consistently

Schedule regular practice into your days. Then practice deliberately (be present, remove distractions and learn). Follow through with your practice. Make practicing a non-negotiable in your life. Do it without hesitating.

4. Pause, reflect, and educate yourself

Take breaks to process your learnings and to let your mind be creative. If you constantly work and push, you don’t allow for creativity to arise. Find a place where you feel at peace and you can relax. Also, consciously reflect on yourself and your practice. What did you do well? What went wrong? Take note and change based on that information. Lastly, educate yourself. Take time to learn from books, seminars, and mentors. Learn a new perspective on your skill. But don’t forget to implement what you learned. Don’t just learn to feed your mind. Learn to improve.

5. Be patient

Becoming good at something takes time. I know you see a lot of overnight success in the media but the reality is that “overnight” success took years. Start by reading some biographies of successful people (I recommend you pick a copy of Walt Disney’s biography) and really see how much time and energy they invested. Be patient with yourself, rest and continue practicing. Results are handmade.

That is it. You don’t need to be talented to become good at something. All you need is willpower, persistence, and belief in yourself. And this is why belief is more important than talent.

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