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Self Development

Harness your Talent

Talent can be your gateway to success, or your worst enemy. Here’s how you can use your talent – but why you shouldn’t rely on it.

Axel Rittershaus




The iconic actor Will Smith once said in an interview that he had never viewed himself as talented.

His comments got me thinking though. If Will doesn’t see himself as talented, what does that mean for us mere mortals and our own talents, dreams and ambitions? The first question we need to ask is:

Is talent important?

The talent factor

Do you remember the kids at school who were incredibly talented? They got the best marks. They were great at sports. They were popular. And all of their successes were put down to innate talent.

In many cases, those shining stars at school end up living in the land of mediocrity. Most of them do not reach the stars, like everybody expects. The question is why?

Talent is no guarantee for success

Will Smith puts his success down to hard work. In his own words, where he excels is in a ridiculous, sickening work ethic. “When the others are sleeping, I’m working. When the others are eating, I’m working,” he says.

There’s an important lesson here for business owners too. Although no-one would deny that he is indeed a talented actor, Will doesn’t see talent as the reason for his success, but hard, relentless and dedicated work. In other words, nothing comes free – you have to work at it. Talent without total focus, dedication and hard work isn’t worth much after all.

Talent can be our worst enemy

Before you dismiss this notion as crazy, think about yourself as a talented person. At first, since you’re so talented, everything comes easily to you. You excel over your peers by simply using your talent. You like it. Soon you start expecting to excel without investing too much time and effort. But the reality is that true success cannot be bought with talent alone.

On the other side of the coin to the talented superstars are the people who might not be looking for attention, may or may not be incredibly talented, but who truly believe in themselves. And there is our second lesson: talent and self-belief are not mutually inclusive. People who believe in hard work and focus, and who know that they have what it takes, often surpass the talented individuals who are coasting through life. They aren’t as immediately noticeable as the talented individuals, mainly because they aren’t showing off – they’re working hard. And the real kicker: that hard worker will carry on working hard, improving themselves and focusing on personal growth. And success will follow.

To remain on top, whether you are gifted with great talent or not, takes time, focus and a strong work ethic. Just ask Will, who insists that “Your talent is going to be a failure if you are not skilled and not dedicating yourself to becoming better every single day.”

Become as successful as you want to be

So, how can you harness your inner-self and reach for the stars? First, if it’s not clear already, never rest on your laurels. Maybe you are extremely talented, maybe not. It doesn’t matter. With focus you can achieve anything. As any sportsman will tell you, the competitor with the most willpower and persistence wins the race, regardless of physical strength, fitness or natural talent. These attributes all help, but they are only ingredients in the final mix.

Never let the opinions of others bring you down. To quote Will again, this time talking to his son in the movie The Pursuit of Happyness: “Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do something. People will tell you, you can’t do something, because they can’t do it. If you got a dream, protect it.” Whatever your goal is, it’s your dream, and it’s in your reach. Only you can realise it.

The ‘10 000 hours’ rule for experts

Studies have proven that it takes up to 10 000 hours of hard, dedicated work to become an expert in any topic. This rule applies to all of us. No matter how talented! The studies verified that talented individuals have greater early successes. That’s all fine and well, but in order to achieve real growth and lasting success something more is needed – or pretty soon they are going to be outpaced by individuals who are not as talented, but far more focused, and with a better work ethic.

Axel Rittershaus is an internationally renowned C-Level / Executive Coach & Author who started as an entrepreneur in the IT industry in 1993. He knows that success is the result of hard work and determination even more than innate talent. A master of maintaining focus and follow-through, Axel supports C-Level leaders globally in achieving goals. Axel is dedicated and passionate to see clients succeed beyond their expectations. Axel is also the president of the International Coach Federation South Africa and a multiple Two Oceans and Comrades finisher. You can follow him on twitter.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Yeti Snow

    Jan 11, 2012 at 09:07

    Perception, or how you are perceived, is I think most critical in your rise through corporate ranks. I have seen hard workers overlooked, and those who are well-perceived – not necessarily the smartest, although they have been smart enough to network and manage their careers very effectively – cruise through promotion after promotion.

    Work smart, not work hard!

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Self Development

6 Mental Barriers You Must Tear Down To Succeed

The world has few obstacles as formidable as the ones in our own mind.

Timothy Sykes



Mental Barriers

Have you hit a slump in your career? If you are finding it difficult to get ahead, it could be because you’re inadvertently holding yourself back in ways you don’t even realize.

Many of us have unhealthy habits and behaviors that stunt our career growth. By becoming aware of them, it’s possible to begin facing these obstacles head-on so that you can remove potential roadblocks to your future success. Here are 6 surprising things that are holding you back:

1. You don’t know the basics

What if you were to build a house on top of a weak foundation? It might be fine for a while, but one day, it would inevitably cause problems and affect your quality of life. Similarly in your career, if you don’t take the time to form a strong foundation of knowledge in your field, it may keep you from advancing and growing later on. Therefore, it’s vital to learn (and sometimes to re-learn) the basics.

There’s no shame in hitting the books and learning the basics or re-learning them, even well into your career. You know how when you re-watch a movie or re-read a book you pick up on things you didn’t notice the first time around? It’s very much the same in career education. So whether you’re a baker or an investor or a manager, make sure to develop a strong foundational knowledge of your field of work. It will serve you in many ways as your career advances.

Related: Purposeful Work: The Six Barriers To Fulfilment In The Workplace

2. Vague goals

Setting clear and specific goals is one of the major building blocks of career success. On the flip side, without specific goals, you’re more likely to suffer from lack of motivation and aimlessness in your career.

Want proof? Consider the work of Dr. Edwin Locke, who released a still-relevant article in 1968 entitled “Toward a Theory of Task Motivation and Incentives.” In this research-based article, he determined that employees were most highly motivated by clear objectives and specific feedback.

Working toward extremely specific goals provided a major source of motivation to actually reach the desired end result, which improved performance. Moreover, specific and difficult goals led to better task performance than vague or easy goals.

3. Caring too much what others think

According to Aristotle, “There is only one way to avoid criticism: Do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.” Are you too much of a people pleaser? If so, this tendency could be holding you back from finding the success you deserve.

No matter what you do, you’ll never please everybody. Yes, you should always make your best efforts in any endeavour, and you should always try to be respectful of the opinions of others. However, don’t let other people’s opinions affect your every move. If you do, you’ll constantly operate from a place of fear and will never achieve great things.

4. You’re trying to figure out everything without a mentor

 Bill Gates, Bob Dylan, Oprah Winfrey. What do these people have in common? They’re all crazy successful…and they all had mentors.

Many people suffer from the belief that to become successful, they have to do the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest alone. However, this mindset is likely stunting their career and slowing down success. Truthfully, seeking out the guidance of a mentor is both a brave and smart career move. A mentor who is further along in their career than you can help advise you, point you in the right direction and help you avoid common pitfalls. There is so much to gain from having a mentor; why hold yourself back by trying to do everything alone?

5. Poor time management

Without a doubt, pursuing a new career or business endeavor takes time. Many people claim that it’s impossible to work toward their dreams because there’s just no time. But is this really true?

The fact is, nobody’s ever going to gift wrap extra time and give it to you like a present. It’s your responsibility to make time. It might involve changing some of your habits like bingeing on Netflix or getting lost on Facebook for hours on end. Or, it might mean that you wake up early in the morning like Apple CEO Tim Cook, who gets up at 3:45 so he can answer emails and take some time for himself before the responsibilities of the day descend. There are always ways to make time for what matters if you’re truly driven to succeed.

Related: Is Your Business Prepared For The Worst? How You Can Stress-Test Your Business

6. You stopped learning

Lifelong learning is a trait of the most successful people. Don’t you want to be one of them? If you think you know everything, then there’s no possible way for you to continue moving forward in your career or even your life.

As Malcolm X famously said, “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” When you approach the world as if you can learn from every experience and every person, you’ll reap many benefits. You’ll be able to keep improving, you’ll be able to remain mentally nimble, and since you won’t be a know-it-all, people will probably like you a lot better. Never stop learning if you want to keep growing.

Are any of these things secretly holding you back?

This article was originally posted here on

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Self Development

(Infographic) How 9 Creative Minds Got Their Ideas

From doing headstands to drinking 50 cups of coffee a day, check out the quirky things that these nine creatives have done.




Coming up with new, creative ideas can be tricky. That’s why it’s important to find a way to get inspired. After all, it’s our own unique rituals that can bring mental clarity and creativity. That could be a quirky habit or routine such as doing headstands or wearing lots of hats.

Igor Stravinksy did headstands, which he believed helped to rest his head and clear his brain. Author Dr. Seuss felt that wearing lots of crazy hats helped inspire his creativity and overcome writer’s block. However, those aren’t even the strangest routines that some of the world’s most brilliant minds have utilised. Steve Jobs bathed his feet in toilet water to reduce stress levels while Honore de Balzac drank up to 50 cups of coffee a day.

Check out Business Backers infographic below to learn the weird ways that nine creative minds got their ideas.


This article was originally posted here on

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Self Development

15 Traits Of Unstoppable People

Unstoppable people keep their inner fires burning by developing the characteristics necessary to become successful.



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Unstoppable people are like warriors. They are always ready to take on the world. They are guided by a light from within, full of boundless energy and unwavering in their goals. They have learned to activate their natural talents and develop the skills necessary to achieve whatever they aim for.

How do they do this? Where do they find the stamina and strength to keep going? Unstoppable people keep their inner fires burning by developing the characteristics necessary to become successful. Here are 15 traits that will help you go from being a solid achiever to being a truly unstoppable person.

Do you have any yet?

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