It’s common to think of the world’s greatest athletes, artists and other talented people as possessing elite gifts that make them the best in their fields. But the title of “best” or “greatest” also depends on much more than just talent.
Photo remixed from an original by Cliff.
This quote is from Jason Kottke, referring to comparisons between basketball greats Michael Jordan and LeBron James. While many have argued that James is the more talented of the two, that pure talent and potential hasn’t made him the best (as evidenced by this year’s NBA finals). He seems to have been missing the fierce drive and leadership qualities that amplified Jordan’s game. Bill Simmons writes on Grantland:
Pre-baseball Jordan thrived with that same bull’s-eye, logged those same minutes, and never wore down. He also made us feel like he would commit multiple murders – not one murder, multiple murders – just to win an important game. On Miami’s team, only Wade makes you feel like that. It’s true.
There are other things that we forget sometimes in the “myth of talent” — the practice and the struggles that successful people have to go through. Talent is essential, of course, but perhaps most important for becoming the best is, as Kottke says, never “taking your foot off the pedal”.