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10% Talent + 90% Persistence = 100% Greatness

Posted July 19, 2009 4:45 PM by DrDoug

The formula for achieving greatness is 10% talent and 90% persistence – not the other way around. Of course, we can all think of examples of engineers, scientists, and other technical professionals who have natural gifts and achieve success. But do these people ever really achieve personal greatness without persistence? I would argue that they do not, because true greatness is something that is measured as an absolute value rather than a relative one.

Here are some examples of individuals who achieved greatness as the result of their persistence, more so than even their talent.

  • Henry Ford went bankrupt twice in his first few years in the automobile industry.
  • In 1902, a magazine called the Atlantic Monthly rejected the poetry submissions of a 28-year old aspiring poet stating, "Our magazine has no room for your vigorous verse." The name of that 28-year old aspiring poet was Robert Frost.
  • Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team.
  • Twenty-three publishers rejected Dr. Seuss' first children's book. The twenty-fourth publisher took a chance and sold over 6 million copies of his book.
  • J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone manuscript was rejected by 15 publishers before it was eventually picked up and became a multi-billion dollar phenomenon.
  • In 1905, the University of Bern rejected a Ph.D. candidate's dissertation describing it as "irrelevant and fanciful." The candidate's name was Albert Einstein.
  • A young quarterback named Johnny had a passion for football and played at a small school because he was considered too little to play at Notre Dame. After graduation, he played with the Steelers for a short stint and was cut. Forced to work construction to pay the bills, he waited for another chance to play football. The Baltimore Colts took a chance on him and Johnny Unitas not only led them to a championship, but also was eventually inducted into the Football Hall of Fame.
  • A young college economics student submitted a paper on a new way to send and receive packages. His professor gave him a "C" on the paper stating, "The concept is interesting but in order to earn better than a 'C,' the idea must be feasible." That student's name was Fred Smith, and he founded a company called Federal Express.

I would expect that many CR4ers have heard of these top performers, and may be surprised and hopefully now inspired to learn of the failures they overcame on their paths to greatness. If anything, maybe this week's blog-entry will justify a moment of reflection as you ask yourself, "How persistent am I?"

Dr. Doug

Editor's Note: You can visit Dr. Doug online at www.DrDoug.com or by email: DrDoug@DrDoug.com.

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#1

Re: 10% Talent + 90% Persistence = 100% Greatness

07/19/2009 8:50 PM

Agreed. Note also that persistence is a factor that is not generally born of privilege, but rather out of frustration with the status quo (whether in science ,art or politics) and a solid work ethic. None of the individuals listed in your examples came from a privileged background.

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#2

Re: 10% Talent + 90% Persistence = 100% Greatness

07/19/2009 11:25 PM

Persistence finishes the voyage. But no amount of persistence will suffice if there is not a requisite amount of talent present. Motivation and perhaps some judgement are still needed for a good beginning. And then there is demon randomness waiting to defeat the most well equipped.

Wisdom? Perhaps the enemy of persistence.....

Ed Weldon

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#3

Re: 10% Talent + 90% Persistence = 100% Greatness

07/20/2009 10:35 AM

Ready, Fire, Aim!

With a target or goal, I continue to make course adjustments (persist) to get back on track.

At the end of the day, moments of reflection are used to evaluate the lessons learned..what worked.. what felt good. If it didn't work, try something else.

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#4

Re: 10% Talent + 90% Persistence = 100% Greatness

07/20/2009 11:47 AM

Persistence is necessary, success don't come easy.

But a bit talent and a wide background helps a lot. You know... success is made of a second of inspiration and years of perspiration....

Kind regards

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#5

Re: 10% Talent + 90% Persistence = 100% Greatness

07/20/2009 12:13 PM

Dr.Doug

Whether scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, players, musicians or whatever be the field one expects to excel,Mere talent and persistence are not all that sufficient. Real achievement is the self targeted performance that one got to assure for himself. Then comes the reality assessment about how others feel about one's performance. Apart from talent and persistence I wouid like to add self motivation, reality of understanding. SWAT analysis, smart observations, perfection of understanding, clarity of thinking, constant review and change of directions. It calls for commitment, honesty and true values, true learnings and corrective actions and attitude to change ,patience and creativity as additional traits to obtain success.

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#6

Re: 10% Talent + 90% Persistence = 100% Greatness

07/20/2009 2:43 PM

Several discoveries, here's ten, were made not due to talent or persistence but sheer luck. Let's not discount that.

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#7

Re: 10% Talent + 90% Persistence = 100% Greatness

07/20/2009 3:57 PM

A quote I keep next to my desk, attributed to Former Pres. Calvin Coolidge, goes as follows;

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.

Talent will not. Nothing in the world is more common than unsuccessful men 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.

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#8

Re: 10% Talent + 90% Persistence = 100% Greatness

07/21/2009 5:13 AM

This is a theme long close to my heart. My view is that success, regardless of the field, can be represented by a pie chart with three components: Skill (intelligence), Hard work (persistance) and Luck (good or bad).

The each sector can be anywhere from 1% to99% so, lots of luck would occupy the majority of the pie and little skill or hard work needed.

With a lot of hard work and skill almost no luck is needed. The sad thing is that luck also occurs in the negative and, with a hefty dose of that it becomes almost impossible to fill the pie.

regards

Chas

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#9

Re: 10% Talent + 90% Persistence = 100% Greatness

07/21/2009 1:04 PM

"The will to win (interpret as succeed) is not nearly as important as the will to prepare to win."

I don't know who said that, but it rings true to me.

This was my Facebook Status today:

"ABILITY is what you are capable of doing. MOTIVATION determines what you do. ATTITUDE determines how well you do it." -- Lou Holtz " Merely waking up in the morning and showing up gives you the chance to ACCOMPLISH all three."--milo

I use Facebook to stay in touch with my college kids and their friends.

milo

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#10
In reply to #9

Re: 10% Talent + 90% Persistence = 100% Greatness

07/22/2009 1:23 PM

Interesting.

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