How To Be More Talented

Yuja Wang

To explain their failures, some people say things like,

  • “I had to close my cafe because I have no talent for managing people.”
  • “Leaders are born to lead, but not me. I was born to watch TV and drink beer.”
  • “She inherited her musical skill from her father, but my dad is an accountant, which is why I can’t play the piano.”

If you believe you need to be born with a talent or inherit a talent to be successful, you are one step closer to failure. Yet if you believe you can find all the talent you need to succeed, at anything you wish, you are one step closer to success. Which step do you want to take?

If you believe you can become more talented, and talent is not something you are born with, the next question is this: where do you get it?

How did Michael Jordan become the greatest basketball player of all time? What made Luciano Pavarotti such an incredible opera singer? Why is Warren Buffet such a brilliant investor?

Are these professionals born with their skills?

No. Successful athletes, musicians, investors, actors, managers and doctors do not get their skills at birth. They achieve their greatness through hard, intense practice.

What is Talent?

“In any activity, quite a bit of what passes for ‘talent’ is really just practice.”

“One can train one’s body, one’s eyes, one’s hands and feet until, with practice, they sort of ‘get to know.’ One no longer has to ‘think’ to set up the stove or park the car: one just DOES it.”

“The same principle applies to crafts and professions which mainly use the mind. The lawyer who has not drilled, drilled, drilled on courtroom procedure may not have learned to shift his mental gears fast enough to counter new turns of a case and loses it. An undrilled new stockbroker could lose a fortune in minutes. A green salesman who has not rehearsed selling can starve for lack of sales.

“The right answer is to practice, practice and practice!” — L. Ron Hubbard from The Way to Happiness


The best writers, actors, surgeons, managers, programmers, artists, politicians, dentists, musicians, chefs, pilots and electricians became the best through hours and hours and hours of practice. And their practice is intense.

  • Michael Jordan was cut from his high school team which proves his talent was not natural. After he was cut, he practiced his basketball moves for more hours every day than anyone else in the game. He became the best basketball player of all time.
  • Pop music’s superstar singer and composer Ed Sheeran practiced singing for 30,000 hours and started his career by performing on sidewalks, day after day.
  • Winston Churchill, one of the world’s greatest speakers, practiced his speeches compulsively, over and over.
  • Even though she earns over $1 million per year as one of the world’s best concert pianists, Yuja Wang still practices 2-5 hours per day. She might practice an entire concerto in that time, or just one page of a difficult piece, over and over, in those daily practice sessions. As a result, she plays faster, more beautifully and more accurately than anyone else.
  • Hitting a bucket of golf balls for fun is not practice, which is why most golfers don’t improve. Tiger Woods proved that practice means you hit 300 balls, with the same club, with the same goal of dropping the ball within 20 feet of the same spot. And you do this every day.
  • For an accomplished musician, like Adele, practice means you play or sing the same piece of music 1000 times, each time slightly better than the last, until you make people cry during performances.
  • For an artist, like Monet, practice means you paint the same flower 300 times until people gasp when they look at it.
  • For an author, like Earnest Hemmingway, practice means you re-write the same book at least 100 times until your readers can’t put it down.

If you practice enough, you can become great at anything you like. You can become a great salesperson, speaker, doctor, programmer, carpenter or artist.

For example, to succeed as a manager, you need to spend hours bringing out the best performance possible from each of your employees. You do this by helping them practice. For example, as a sales managers you practice with your sales people. “I’ll pretend I’m afraid to buy a new car and you sell it to me anyway, ready? OK, Here we go.” The more they practice, the more cars they sell.

A practice session might go like this.

Coach: “I’m too scared of buying a car.”

Salesperson: “You don’t have to be afraid of me! C’mon, don’t worry. Let’s take a test drive.”

Coach: “Well, that doesn’t help me get over my fear. Try saying this instead. ‘I understand. Most people feel the same way. However, we have found that if people drive several different cars before deciding, they no longer feel afraid. You can drive all three of these cars here right now. What do you think?'”

Salesperson: “Ah, OK, I get it. Let me try again.”

Coach: “I’m too scared of buying a car.”

Sales person: “I understand. Most people feel the same way. However….”

Every skill can be practiced and improved: negotiating business deals, creating perfect proposals, giving speeches, preparing tax forms, designing a logo, driving race cars, using computers, writing reports, teaching students, managing money, writing, fixing engines, building phone apps, painting houses, everything.

No one is born with talent. Yet with practice, everyone, including you, can become talented at anything!


1. Write down a talent you wish to gain.

2. Break down the talent into all of its skills. Make a thorough list.

For example, to be a great soccer player, you need to master 50 different types of kicks. To be a great accountant, you need to master math, tax laws and accounting software, as well as many people skills. You might have a list of 100 individual skills.

3. Work out how to practice each individual skill. Some talents you can practice on your own while others require a coach to help you master the skill.

4. The best coaches are those who are already have the talents you need. Their time is incredibly valuable so if they agree to help you, be  VERY grateful. However, anyone who wants to help you succeed can be a good coach: family members, friends, coworkers, partners, etc.

5. Practice for as many hours as you can stand, each day, until each skill is perfect and you gain the talent you desire. If you get work done while you practice a skill, even better!

6. Every time you fail at something, look at it as mere practice. Turn the loss into an opportunity. Which of your skills need more work so you do not fail?

7. Increase your results and income by constantly improving your skills. Everyone has room for improvement.

To learn more, read “Be Competent” from the Way to Happiness.