Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is widely regarded as one of the most influential composers of all time. He produced some 600 works throughout his life, earning a place among the most prolific composers. Mozart is held in the highest esteem by all experts in the field of music- he is considered a genius. He was a child prodigy, or was he? Contrary to popular belief, Mozart didn’t become a great composer overnight. He honed his skills day in and day out, doing what psychologists refer to as ‘deliberate practice’- a long, arduous journey towards self-improvement and mastery. Mozart is arguably one of the greatest composers of all time, but he was no genius.
Yes, he was immensely talented. Yes, he produced some of the greatest musical pieces. No, he was no genius. Genius is a myth. Had Leonardo Da Vinci relied on his talent only, we wouldn’t be arguing over Mona Lisa’s smile and the hidden meanings behind it. Had Isaac Newton trusted his gut only, he probably would have never come up with the Three Laws of Motion or the Universal Law of Gravitation for that matter. And had Albert Einstein failed to do the math to corroborate his Special Theory of Relativity and the General Theory of Relativity, he would have simply been dismissed as a crackpot. Talent might win you a sport contest, it might help you pass tests with flying colors or even help you land that job you’ve been dreaming for, but really, how far can you go by relying solely on your talents?
Talent has never won a war. Napoleon Bonaparte employed some of the most talented generals, hired some of the finest warriors he could find, had one of the largest armies at the time, and yet he succumbed to defeat in the Battle of Waterloo, present day Belgium. No matter how talented you are, there will always be someone else who outworks you, someone who is willing to go that extra mile. And if you don’t cultivate your skills, if you don’t put in the hours, someone else will. Once you lose momentum, it’s going to be an uphill battle. That’s why relying on your talents only is a terrible idea. It’s a jungle out there. To keep an edge over the competition, you need to have a sickening work ethic. There’s no middle ground.
Success in the tech industry is guaranteed to no one. In fact, in life there’s no guarantee whatsoever. Life is a gamble – we all make small ‘bets’ every day, whether it is to find the quickest route to work or simply choose what to eat. There’s no recipe for success and accolades in the tech industry, but one thing is certain: if you simply rely on talents, you won’t go that far. You may have the most talented people on your team, the brightest ones, but if your team lacks desire and a strong work ethic, you might be out of the game before you even realize it. It’s true that some of the most successful tech companies like Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft or IBM hire top talents in their area of expertise, whether it is software development, marketing, human resources, public relations, etc. But think about it- would they be at the top if they simply hired talented people, disregarding fundamental human traits such as integrity, work ethic or the unflinching zeal to learn new things? Probably not.
If you want to thrive in the new economy, if you want to make a difference in the tech industry, you need to produce at an elite level. One of the things that differentiates the really success tech companies from the ones that simply go with the flow is the chutzpah to blaze new trails, the courage to march on untrodden paths. And in order to accomplish this mammoth task, you need a team of people who best epitomizes integrity, honesty, work ethic, courage and an unwavering will to succeed no matter what. That’s what makes a winning team. Talent certainly helps, but it’s not the main ingredient for success. A talented person might think: “I’m hugely talented. Why would I even bother learning new things?” In contrast, a strong-willed one would think: “I thrive on challenges. How can I further hone my skills?” Guess who gets hired.
If you want to make a dent in the universe, if you really want to thrive in the tech industry, look for people who possess traits like honesty, integrity, desire to acquire new skills, enthusiasm in the face of uncertainty and adversity, etc. Once you get the right people on the bus, you’re ready to roll.