How to Be Successful with Mediocre Talent

One Writer

Because we aren’t all the cream of the crop in our respective fields by Pexels from Pixabay
Cream of the crop. Meaning: The very best.
Origin: Cream, in nature, is the richest part of milk and rises to the top. In the 17th century, the word “cream” began to be used to mean “the best,” — for instance, John Ray included “cream of the jest” in his 1678 collection of English proverbs. The “of the crop” suffix was eventually adopted for alliteration. The French version, la crème de la crème, meaning the best of the best, was popular by 1800.

I’ll be honest here — I am a mediocre writer.

Meaning, I wouldn’t rate my work as “greatness.” It takes more than talent to be a good writer, and man, am I glad for that. Talent, if measured, is dosed out in unequal amounts and some just get more than others. For writing, for singing, for playing the piano, or for working with numbers. Talent is subjective and certainly unequal.

And it does not matter. What one lacks in talent, they may make up for in dedication or in persistence or by their charismatic style. My point? You don’t have to be THE BEST at something to do it well. You just have to be willing to try to do it the best — your best.

I grew up with several siblings We each had our own talents and they varied widely. Being one of the two girls, it was natural for people to compare my sister and I. Where that went wrong for me is that my sister literally excelled at everything she touched. She worked hard. She devoted herself to excellence, and it showed. She graduated third in her class and went on to college. She now works for one of the most prominent hospitals in the country and her job is to save the lives of babies who are very sick. If I were to begin to compete with that — I’d lose.

It makes absolutely no sense for me to compare my talents with hers — mine are very, very different, and in different measure. While I had no one particular area of excellence, I became more of an explorer, a feeler, a deep-thinker, a student of life. While my sister excelled in her areas of expertise — I was naming butterflies or writing poetry. What we share, the two of us sisters as different as we are — is authenticity.

Being mediocre is not a death sentence to your dreams, It should not be a damper on your mental health, your goal-setting, or your plans of action. Falling somewhere in the middle-of-the-pack of talent in your respective field(s) is simply a starting point.

Here’s how to aim for greatness

Define your intention

No one can tell you what success looks like for you. It is for you to define for yourself. And here’s a newsflash — your intentions, your dreams, your goals, your purpose can all be redefined any damn well time you please.

If something feels like a win to you — it’s a win.

If something feels like a good direction for you to move in — then that path is for you to choose and define.

Don’t let anyone define your experience or your success. Whatever you decide is success, move toward it with intention.

Set smaller goals that add up

Whatever your end goal, define smaller goals along the way. All of these steps toward success add up to exactly that — success!

  • Smaller goals are easier to achieve and give you obtainable milestones along the way.
  • Smaller goals give you shorter-term purpose, which you can tackle with more energy and focus.
  • Small wins build momentum and keep you energized toward success.

Work harder

When you aren’t the best — you have to work a lot harder. There’s no sense in sugar-coating it. You will have to train harder, learn harder, and work work work to achieve things that may be more easily obtained by those with an abundance of natural talent in the same field.

  • Learn about your craft. Take online classes. Watch videos. Attend webinars. Listen to podcasts. What you weren’t naturally born with — learn. Perhaps you determine the path you have chosen isn’t working out for you. It’s ok — you can redirect your efforts but you will never know without giving it a good hard try.
  • Practice your craft. There’s no better way to improve than to do.
  • Put in the hours. You may have to spend more time building your repertoire, developing a support system, and developing a foundation of experience. What some have in natural talent — others develop through hard work, experience, and the resulting wisdom.

Display grit

Successful people will tell you, they got there because they have grit.

More and more, research is emerging to suggest that inborn talent doesn’t determine success. Instead, grit, a relatively new concept in psychology, is becoming a key factor in achievement.
The concept of grit, defined as passion and perseverance in working toward significant long-term goals, is one explanation for why intelligence and talent do not always lead to success. — Positive Psychology

Grit is the X-factor when it comes to success. When the talented person can’t quite make it to a successful outcome, it may be because they lack the “heart” or the “grit” to make their dreams happen. It’s ok — because YOU can show the world how it’s done. You show them with your fierce determination, your passion, and your pertinacious drive.

Maximize on what you do well — no matter what that is

My father always taught me that to be successful you have to do one of 2 things:

  • Do something no one else wants to do.


  • Do something everyone wants to do — but do it better than they do.

I propose that this does not allow for the gray areas. The gray areas that my talent falls into. Part of being truly successful when you are in competition with people whose talent can run circles around yours, is to be truly honest with yourself about what you are particularly good at.

What are your strengths?

How can you maximize on these strengths and make them shine?

What makes you stand out — or how can you make yourself stand out?

It does not matter what you choose to do, when you add in heart and determination and develop the talents you have, then you can carve out a slice of success for yourself, all of which you can be very proud.

Find coaches, mentors, and supporters

Find people who are willing to mentor you, coach you, and support you on your path to success. Even if you have to pay for them. These people have value and experience you can glean and learn from, which gives you an edge. Do not be afraid or too stubborn to ask for help.

Build your support system and find your fans — they are out there!

Lastly, believe in yourself. Be your own best cheerleader. Be your own coach. Be humble but not self-deprecating. Be honest with yourself but kind with yourself. Success is a subjective thing. But you get to be the one to claim it for yourself. It is a very personal thing and no matter your place in the field of talent — that space, is yours.

Thank you for reading and I wish you the best of success on your journey. Here are a few more things to help you along your way: 

How Should We Respond to Workplace Change?

Disappointment Doesn’t Have to Fester

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