Belief + Mastery + Desire = Success.
Every one of us has some type of talent or inherent ability. We all love to do things that we can do with ease and without much active thought or effort; it feels so good to do something that comes so naturally. Sometimes these talents lead us to the path we’re on and sometimes a perceived lack of talent steers us away from a path that doesn’t feel so right.
But talent is only a tiny part of the equation for professional success. More important than talent is belief. One must believe that they can learn a new skill when embarking on learning something new. Each of us may have to put in different levels of effort towards mastering the skill but it comes down to this: we can all learn new things.
In the book “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance” by Angela Duckworth, she devotes an entire chapter to what she calls “The Distraction of Talent.” Ducksworth takes this chapter to clarify and debunk the impact of talent on success. She shares that people love seeing the embodiment of talent in others and are quick to identify natural ability. However, this is at odds with what we truly believe. When surveyed, most people equate success with hard work; being a natural is not actually that important at all. Duckworth writes that “the focus on talent distracts us from something that is at least as important, and that is effort.”
Effort makes all the difference in the world. Working at something diligently is essential to learning and growing, and I always tell my students that the hospitality business is all about mastering skills. The belief that you can master a new untested skill is essential and it defines and shapes your curiosity for learning additional new skills.
However, we often rationalize our approach to new things: “I’m not a natural so I can’t do it.” Of course, we’re not good at things we do for the first time. It’s the first time! And yet we seek some sort of natural ability when taking on a new endeavor or trying out a new pursuit. This belief can be limiting, and these thoughts shape our future.
This is why skills are so crucial. We can improve and hone our skills simply by applying some effort and then working to master them over time. New leaders can build skills like speaking to a group or teaching a new method. New chefs can learn how to empower their teams by asking questions and delegating tasks. Cooks can work on their knife skills and servers can work on carrying multiple plates in one hand. None of these examples are talents, they are skills. And skills are only learned and mastered through repetition.
And this is where desire comes in. Repetition is not always so interesting and there are tons of articles about finding the motivation, inspiration and passion for what you do. We all seek some sort of inspiration for doing something again and again.He’ I always used to pitch the importance of passion in your work, so my mind was blown when I read this quote from my former boss Chef Thomas Keller. He states that passion is not so important; for him it’s about desire:
“It’s not about passion. Passion is something that we tend to overemphasize, that we certainly place too much importance on. Passion ebbs and flows. To me, it's about desire. If you have constant, unwavering desire to be a cook, then you'll be a great cook.”
He’s right. Desire puts your eyes on the prize and desire helps to fuel your efforts. Use your desire to become a more effective leader to get up the courage to talk to your team. Use your desire to become a confident chef by working on your knife cuts and improving a little bit more every day. You can fill your toolbox with the skills you have learned and the skills you are still mastering; those skills are yours forever. You created them, you put in the work, and you are the owner of your skillset.
If you believe you can, you will. If you master your skills, they will be yours for a lifetime. And the desire, well, that is the best part of all. Your desire to achieve your vision is as endless as it is priceless. So don’t worry about talent. Work on your belief in yourself, put in some effort and the success will certainly come.