Prefect’s Assembly – 13 March 2017


Hard work or Talent – By Chezney Drabile (Deputy Head Prefect)

A couple of days ago, I came across 2 boys who were talking about trial week. The one boy was complaining about why he had been dropped from his team. I’m sure that majority of us, if not all of us, have empathy for this boy and have felt the feeling of disappointment at some stage in our lives. We often look for some sort of justification as to why we have been dropped which often ends up in us doing one of the following,

1. We blame the coach; we accuse the coach of having favourites, generally being against us and not liking us. Or we say that our coach obviously has no clue about what he/she is doing.
2. We say that the person who got moved up pretty much sucked up to the coach and doesn’t deserve to be there. We just say this in a more explicit way.
3. The third and final thing which we do is what led me to my message for today’s assembly. Fundamentally, we all say that the sole reason why the person was moved up is because he/she is more talented than us. Of course we never say this out loud. But as some stage of our lives we have all thought this.

With this in mind I’ve titled my message for today: Talent or Hard work?

The question I’d like to pose today is what separates the best from the rest. What separates the high performance athletes and sports stars from the common man? Is talent really the gap between us and the superstars?

Let’s rewind back in the time for second to the good old days. The days of Ayrton Senna, Carl Lewis, Pele and Don Bradman too name a few. I firmly believe that the one thing all of these people had in common was a lot of raw talent. Back in the day, the barrier and difference between an amateur and a professional was largely due to their raw talent. If you were talented then you received more opportunities which obviously meant that you got more exposure and experience than your peers and resulted in you becoming a professional.

I’m not saying that all these individuals never worked hard but what I am saying is that in their times sports largely revolved around your raw talent and abilities. Over the years things have changed and millions of dollars have been invested into sports. Sports has transformed and what you needed to become a professional a few years back is not the same right now. Right now talent isn’t enough, you need a lot of hard work as well.

The problem is that we don’t realize that the barrier between us moving up and becoming a sports star is our mindset which hasn’t changed and allowed us to realize that hard work and sacrifices is what it takes now and not necessarily only talent. Most people (to a certain extent) can reach the top level; the question is how badly do you want it?

I remember reading a book sometime back titled the Gold Mine Effect by Rasmus Ankersen. In the book, Rasmus went on a journey to unravel the secret to success in various gold mines and why they are filled with talent. He defined a Gold Mine as any tiny geographic place which produces a series of world class athletes one after another. It’s basically any place which we believe is filled with talent, when in actual fact, they are filled with people who want to succeed as badly as they want to breath.

To understand why these individuals are successful and not necessarily the most talented people, we need to visit a couple of gold mines. Let’s look at Ethiopia for starters.

When you look at Ethiopia you will discover that during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, 4 of the gold medal winners from Ethiopia all came from the same village consisting of 30 000 people.

In Kenya a single tribe has been dominating the 3 000m steeple chase for the past years. In Jamaica a single athletics club (which trains on grass and uses a rusted old gym) produces majority of the best sprinters on Earth. Usain bolt, Asafa Powell and Shelly Ann Fraser Pryce to name a few.

All of these areas have one thing in common, a desire to work hard. Rasmus discovered that talent is found everywhere but that doesn’t necessarily make you successful. It just means that you have a natural ability to perform the task. You still need to put in the long hours.

I’m sure that all of us are familiar with the 10 000 hour concept, which means that we need 10 000 hours to master a discipline. This shows us that hard work is needed, but the Gold Mines show us that you need so much more to be a superstar. The Gold Mines put in about 20 000- 30 000 hours of practice, which explains why we all think they are talented and why they dominated in their various sports.

In Brazil, a footballer reaches 10 000 hours of practice at the age of 13. In contrast, an English footballer only reaches 10 000 hours of practice in their mid-20’s. To put this in perspective 10 000 hours is about 2 hours and 44mins of practice every day for 10 years.

In Kenya, an 18 year old athlete would have run 25 000- 30 000km’s more than your average American.

What does all of this mean? Maybe we don’t make the team we would like to be in because we don’t put in the work. We all have some sort of ability or talent but that doesn’t determine how successful we will be. Thankfully we all have a second chance, and seeing as the start of the winter fixtures is fast approaching. The team that you start at doesn’t have to be where you finish. Vince Lombradi summarizes my speech perfectly when he said, “The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary”

The only thing left for us to do is decide how badly we want to be the best, and how much we are willing to put in. We are all in a Gold Mine right now, and the only difference between us and any other school is our ability to cultivate our talent through hard work. As Rasmus Ankersen said, “The Great Ages didn’t have more talent, they just wasted less”

Posted by pbhs / Posted on 14 Mar
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