How to Succeed In Life With Virtually No Talent

Devin Arrigo

Photo by Tony Pham on Unsplash

This may sound a bit harsh, but I’m gonna say it anyway.

There are very few things in life that I’m good at.

Whether it was high school sports, getting my college degree, or my journey to becoming a full-time writer — I’m not naturally gifted or talented at any. In fact, I’m pretty bad at all three.

However, despite my lack of ability, I always found a way to make it work. Whether it was putting in extra effort after practice, late nights in the library, or writing consistently, things always seemed to work out for me.

Looking back on it, what I lacked in talent and ability, I made up for with my mindset. I knew I could never compete solely with skill or talent. But I could by doing the little things — the stuff people generally don’t want to do.

If you lack natural talent, you can still succeed. However, instead of pouting, focus on the things you can control — work ethic, mindset, and consistency.

Add 30 Pounds of Muscle and Force Your Coach to Let you Play

When I was a junior in high school, technically, I was on the varsity basketball team. However, I rarely played and mostly sat at the end of the bench, cheering on the team.

To be brutally honest, the only reason I made the varsity team was that I was 6'5". Outside of that, I was lanky, incredibly skinny, and only weighed 180 pounds. I had the height of a basketball player, but not the skills of one.

After my junior season, I was tired of riding the bench. I wanted to play in the games, not watch them.

So, I decided to start lifting weights in the off-season. My goal was to permanently banish my nickname as the “tall, lanky kid” and finally start playing in games.

I worked hard and dedicated that summer completely to getting bigger, faster, and stronger. I worked out a lot in that off-season, and it paid off big time.

The next year, when tryouts came around, I was 6'5", 210 pounds. I put on an extra 30 pounds of muscle in the off-season, and it showed. I was stronger than most players and pushed people around on the floor.

When the season started, I finally enjoyed the fruits of my off-season labor. Not only did I escape the bench during my senior season, but I was consistently starting games. Our team even made a deep playoff run, and I was a crucial part of it.

If you aren’t naturally talented, that's okay, not many people are. What you lack in talent you can make up for with work ethic. Put in the extra hours and focus on what you can control. by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Start Putting in Caffeine-Fueled, Late-Night Library Study Binges

When I was back home for the holidays last year, I went out to dinner with my Dad and Stepmom. After getting the check, I pulled out my iPhone to calculate the tip.

“Whatcha doing, Dev?” my Stepmom said with a playful smirk on her face. At age 24, I still hadn’t learned the “move the decimal, double the number” trick to quickly calculating tips. I admit, maybe I was a little behind the power curve on this one.

The truth is, I’ve never considered myself smart.

I’m terrible at mental math, I misspell words often, and I rarely understand things the first time.

Nonetheless, I graduated magma cum laude from Penn State University with a 3.9 GPA, a degree in Risk Management, and a minor in Information Systems.

I don’t say all this to brag, but rather to show that I succeed despite my lack of ability or talent. And you can too.

Instead of whining about how stupid I was or how I got the short end of the stick, I accepted it. I moved on, and then I worked to learn as best I could.

Rarely was anything easy for me in college, though. But what I lacked in smarts, I more than made up for with my work ethic. I studied more than anyone I knew. I recognized that I would fail if I tried to rely solely on brainpower.

Instead, I concentrated on putting in enough time to make things click. I put in late nights at the library and early morning study sessions. And I spent an exorbitant amount of time practicing, rehearsing, and making sure I fully understood the concepts before exams.

I certainly wasn’t the brightest student in my friend group, but I ended up doing extremely well because of my work ethic and willingness to put in the time.

What you lack in talent or intelligence, you can more than make up for with your willingness to put in the time and effort. It won't be easy, but if you accept the fact that extra effort is required, you will succeed.

Don’t Be the Best, Be the Most Consistent

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is one of those people that everyone seems to love. He’s had a long list of careers — from a professional football player to a WWE wrestler, now Hollywood actor and founder of a tequila company.

Surprisingly, The Rock attributes his incredible success to consistency above all else.

“Success isn’t always about greatness. It’s about consistency. Consistent hard work leads to success. Greatness will come.” — Dwayne Johnson

Success doesn’t require you to be the smartest or most talented. What matters is being consistent to develop the skill to become who you want to be.

Like most things in my life, I am not a talented writer.

I didn’t go to any fancy literary school or graduate with a creative writing degree. In fact, I’ve only been writing online for about 8 months.

Nonetheless, I’ve stayed consistent and focused on doing what successful writers do — writing every day. I’m not there yet, but I will beat out my lack of talent with consistency and patience.

At the end of the day, you don’t have to be the most talented to succeed. Instead, consistently do things the person you strive to be does.

If you want to be a writer, write consistently. If you want to be a runner, run consistently. If you want to be an athlete, train consistently.

The best and brightest didn’t start out successful. Instead, they developed their skill by consistently beating on their craft, year after year.

You do not have to be the most talented to succeed. Instead, you have to consistently do the thing that type of person does. Consistency leads to proficiency, not the other way around.


Work ethic matters more than talent

What you lack in talent, you can make up for with work ethic. Focus on what you can control and do the things other people aren’t willing to do. Don’t be afraid to put in the extra hours.

Time x effort leads to success

What you lack in talent or intelligence, you can more than make up for with your willingness to put in the time and effort. It won’t come easy, but if you accept that extra effort is required, you will succeed.

Don’t be the best, be the most consistent

You do not have to be the most talented to succeed. Instead, you have to do the thing that type of person would do consistently. Consistency leads to proficiency, not the other way around.

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Marathon runner | Triathlete | Personal growth addict | Writing about creative ways to become a better human being.

Los Angeles, CA

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