I just got back from our end of season celebration for 3rd grade basketball. As the coach, I wanted to pass something of value on to the kids that they could take into next season and make applicable to life. I know, they're 8 and 9 year olds, so I tried not to make it too deep, but the sooner we start building the right mindset in our kids the better off they'll be. We struggled this season, with a team of kids that largely hadn't played much, if any, basketball in the past. Most of the other teams started the season way ahead of us in that sense. But the kids all worked hard and improved a ton, which was fun to see.
When I was passing out their season end awards, I made sure to point out the phrase I had added to their trophies. "Hard Work Beats Talent". I wanted to encourage them that, although there may be other players that might have more natural ability than them, if they were willing to put in the effort and work hard, they could do better than the kids that just rely on their talent to carry them. We see this in sports all the time. Kids in college who are super talented get arrogant or complacent, and instead of dominating in the professional world, they dive right off the cliff and are out of the league. Especially at that high of a level where everyone is working so hard to beat you, you can't just rely on talent.
If you rest on your talent alone and expect it to carry you, it never will. If you use the talent and abilities you have wisely, you can accomplish great things. It's something that's a truth not just in sports, but in business, as well as everything else in life. You can never be of the mindset that your natural abilities will carry you. You must have a learning and growth mentality - that you'll never know it all and that you can always be improving yourself. Not only that, if you are willing to put in that extra effort and have the right mindset, you'll not only be able to reach great heights, but you'll even be able to surpass those that might have an "advantage" over you at first glance. Just look at the big businesses that get lazy with their place in the market, only to later find themselves struggling to stay on top with the introduction of a new competitor that has the drive and the hustle to get it done. They may not have the smartest group of leaders, they may not have the capital, but what they do to dig deep and just make it happen makes up for any of those disadvantages. Again, many examples can be found in sports as well, where the obviously dominant team is beaten by the underdogs who have less talent, but more heart and work harder in preparation and during the game.
Hustle and hard work will always beat straight talent. Use your talents wisely. Develop them and don't take them for granted. Work just as hard even if you do have the natural abilities. If you don't, know that just going all-out and working as hard as you can will beat out the majority, since most won't give it that kind of effort. You can control how hard you work, which means you have the ability to achieve anything you desire if you're willing to go and get it.