The Leadership Blog

No Talent Required

business building growth leadership leadership advice leadership lessons no talent required personal growth professional growth progress Nov 26, 2023

If I told you the key to my success required no talent at all, would you believe me?  It's true.  I’m not trying to minimize talent but I think we can over emphasize it sometimes.  The lack of talent in a certain area of our lives can become a crutch that we lean on making excuses as to why we didn’t accomplish a goal.

I’ve got five tips for you today that EVERY leader needs to grow their leadership skills and YOU CAN CHOSE TO DO EACH of them.  Nothing’s standing in your way from doing them except you. You don’t need an ounce of talent to do any of them.  I discovered them over two decades ago and I’ve been working to strengthen them ever since.  I learned them from… you guessed it…New York Times bestselling author John Maxwell.  He’s played such an important role in my leadership development.  Let’s get right to them.

  • Teachability: The desire to listen, learn and apply.  

 I was 31 years old when I read my first Maxwell book.  I had spent nine years in commercial television as an anchor/reporter/producer.  I had developed strong writing and producing skills and felt confident I was ready to take on the leadership of the production department at PBS39.  Silly me.  At that time, I didn’t know what I didn’t know, but I wanted to learn.  The journalism part came easy, but the leadership part was a brand-new ballgame and I had a ton to learn so I started reading books and applying what I learned.  John always says, “When we live to learn, we really learn to live.”  I couldn’t agree more.

“A winner knows how much he still has to learn, even when he’s considered an expert by others. A loser wants to be considered an expert by others before he has learned enough to know how little he knows.”  Sydney Harris Chicago Journalist

  • Passion: a strong barely controllable emotion.

Passion is the first step to achievement.  The most important career advice you need is to find your passion and follow it. Here are a few more suggestions Maxwell has about passion.  Prioritize your life according to your passion, because it’s the fuel for your vision.

“When it comes to passion, there are two kinds of people: fire lighters and fire fighters.  You need to stay away from the fire fighters.” John Maxwell

  •  Initiative: the ability to assess and initiate things independently.

What I find so beautiful about initiative is that when we demonstrate initiative it becomes a bit addictive.  We want to do it again and again and again.  We’re not sitting back waiting on others to get things done or take us to the next level.  We are in control of our own destiny when we show initiative.

“To succeed, jump as quickly at opportunities as you do at conclusions.”  Ben Franklin

Initiative is simply accepting responsibility for your life.  A lack of responsibility= lack of initiative.  Overwhelmed people rarely show initiative.  That’s a point worthy of a little more explanation.  We can all get overwhelmed from time to time.  Our world is moving so incredibly fast and the demands of leadership are immense.  The desire to innovate in every industry can be paralyzing, but if we choose to take a deep breath and focus on completing one task at a time, we can prevent being overwhelmed.  Here’s something that took me a while to get comfortable with…I will never get EVERYTHING done. When I finally bonded with that sentence it was very liberating.  I’m intentional about getting as much done each day as I can. What I don’t get done, will be waiting for me tomorrow.  Then, I switch gears and go home to refresh, focus on my family and rest up for the next day where I’ll tackle the next thing on my to-do list.

  • Courage: the ability to do something that frightens you.

John teaches that we need courage to lead because being out front makes us an easy target. I think every leadership responsibility requires courage.

We need courage to seek the truth.

We need courage to change when it’s easier to remain the same.

We need courage to express our convictions when others challenge us.

We need courage to overcome obstacles.

We need courage to learn and grow when it will display our weakness.

We need courage to take the high road when others treat us badly.

Courage is an everyday test. Sometimes I have to say it out loud.  I make a declaration that I will make the courageous decisions today, not the easy ones.

“There is an agonizing loneliness that characterizes the life of a pioneer.”  Martin Lurther King, Jr.

  • Encouragement: the action of giving someone support, confidence or hope.

American newspaper columnist George M. Adams said, “Encouragement is oxygen to the soul.”

I’ve always been a cheerleader for others.  I get a huge sense of satisfaction when I help people grow.  I know I’m working in my purpose when I’m doing that and people need encouragement these days more than ever.

Recently I heard John share several reasons why we need encouragement so desperately.  He said most people don’t believe in themselves and very few people have someone in their lives who actually believes in them.  Most people will do anything within their power to embrace a leader’s belief in them.

“Flatter me, and I may not believe you.  Criticize me and I may not like you.  Ignore me and I may not forgive you.  Encourage me and I will not forget you.”  William A. Ward American Motivational Writer

It requires no talent whatsoever to be teachable, passionate, show initiative, be courageous and an encourager.  It just takes practice and intentionality, something we all have the ability to do.