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We all know very talented people. The gifted athlete, rich business owner, articulate public speaker, class valedictorian are all examples of talented people. Likewise, we all know very talented people who are not always “successful” or achieve great things. There are many “smart” or “wealthy” people who are unhappy, unfulfilled, and who obviously have not reached their full potential nor achieved anything of merit.
While pondering this question, I came across a book by John C. Maxwell entitled Talent Is Never Enough. The title appears to answer my question, but I wanted to know why, and what other attributes in addition to talent are necessary to succeed and find personal and professional fulfillment.
One of the keys to success is belief. Have you ever noticed how successful people have a supreme confidence, and who absolutely, positively believe in their potential and endeavor. Entrepreneurs persist, seemingly at odds with their industry or even common logic, and become wildly more successful than anyone could have imagined. It is their belief in themselves and what they are attempting to accomplish that sees them through.
I can honestly say that I have never met a person of great achievement, or even one who I believe someday will achieve greatness, who has not possessed a bounty of passion. This “fire within” sustains people to continue, never giving up their hopes and dreams. Without it, they may have quit or moved on to something else where they would have been merely average. Passion provides them energy and willpower to work long hours. It is also infectious, and people with passion spread it around their work place, homes, and communities. Are you following your passion? What do you want to accomplish in your lifetime?
Passionate people have an abundance of initiative. This does not come easily to most people, and therefore the successful person with this trait is rare. But initiative is the first step to achieving goals, opening doors that otherwise would remain closed, and often is the deciding factor between failure, mediocrity and overwhelming success.
Are some people simply born with talent? I think not. Michael Jordan, the former NBA basketball superstar, was cut from his 8th grade basketball team. He practiced long and hard and went on to greatness. Even after achieving stardom, he would practice free throws long after his teammates had left for the locker room. Successful people practice, practice, practice. They give that little extra effort, conduct a little more research, pull one more espresso shot, and make one more phone call to a prospective customer.
One of the most powerful forces in achieving success is focus. Focus brings power, performance and results. Great people usually have a single-minded focus on one objective. Upon conquering that goal, they have a laser beam focus on one other purpose. Here’s what John Maxwell suggests you do to increase your focus:

  • Be intentional – make every action count
  • Challenge your excuses
  • Don’t let yesterday hijack your attention
  • Focus on the present
  • Stay focused on results

Successful people finish things. They have perseverance and the ability to sustain hard work until the job is done. They never give up. They know there is no success without it.
Of all the attributes inherent in successful people, I believe character is the most important. Why? Because none of us can succeed beyond the limits of our character. It acts as a ceiling to our accomplishments. All of us are sometimes tempted to take shortcuts, or do things that are not entirely ethical. Sometimes only you know about it, anyway, so why not just do it? Our character and integrity prevents that. It helps us to do the right thing. Character provides us with a foundation on which we base our decisions and actions. Character does not make one successful, but it helps talented people realize their full potential.
Maxwell also adds responsibility, courage and teamwork to the mix of attributes required for success. The key is discipline, respect for others, fairness and a healthy dose of old-fashioned stick-to-it-iveness. Yes, you have talent. But do you have what it takes to turn your talent into success?
Peter M. Guyer is the Founder and President of ATHENA MARKETING INTERNATIONAL (, an international marketing, consulting and business development firm serving food and beverage manufacturers. Tel. (206) 749-9255.