That seems so obvious, and yet in practice we find it slightly hard to grasp. There's a faint xor between talent and hard work. It comes partly from popular culture, where it seems to run very deep, and partly from the fact that the outliers are so rare. If great talent and great drive are both rare, then people with both are rare squared. Most people you meet who have a lot of one will have less of the other. But you'll need both if you want to be an outlier yourself. And since you can't really change how much natural talent you have, in practice doing great work, insofar as you can, reduces to working very hard.
This is a phenomenon I've observed over the years in myself and others.
I came from a place of thinking I was less than in the intelligence category because I never did well in school.
My high school education crated in me a fixed mindset around specific topics, particularly math, in which I would say, “I’m not good at math.”
Then I became an entrepreneur and discovered the power—and importance—of spreadsheets.
And I realized I could be as good at math as I wanted to be... if I put in the work.
I truly believe that the difference between winners today is the work.
You can be the smartest person on the planet, but that itself doesn’t build billion-dollar companies or produce the next great novel.
Only work does.
Einstein had this quote, “It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer."
He dedicated his entire life to solving a core problem in physics.
He held this problem in his mind every day and night for years.
And after years of “staying with the problem,” he came to a breakthrough.
We now revere him as a genius, but was he?
Maybe, maybe not.
When was the last time you thought about a single problem for years?