Olle Lindholm

Is talent a blessing or a curse?

Imagine two ten-year-olds playing for an all-star football team.

One player got picked because of his talent. Coaches praised him for his speed, and they saw huge potential in him.

The other player loved the game and worked harder than everyone else. The coaches admired his efforts.

Can you guess who plays for a top European football club today?

Hint: it isn’t me….

Effort beats talent at the end of the day

I learned a valuable lesson in mindset during my shortlived football career. Talent can be both a blessing and a curse.

When you believe you already have what it takes, you don’t push yourself hard enough. You feel entitled to success and you start to fear failure.

Carol S. Dweck calls this the fixed mindset. And it’s one of the most dangerous threats to fulfilling your potential.

I experienced this firsthand. Eventually, the other kids started to catch up with me and I wasn’t the fastest kid anymore…

The myth of “no effort required” is pervasive in our culture. It permeates sports, music, business and almost every other field. The culture celebrates shortcuts, quick wins, and superficial thinking that keeps us from living up to our true potential.

Debunking the talent myth

We look up to athletes, musicians and entrepreneurs as somehow different to us. We often apply their success to a strike of genius or raw talent. And it sure doesn’t hurt to have some.

But talent isn’t enough. We tend to overlook the value of deliberate practice, motivation and emotional support. These ingredients are more important if we want to achieve true mastery.

Even Albert Einstein, who many consider to be a genius, proclaimed:

I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.

Indeed, Albert Einstein was a mediocre student who struggled like everyone else. His work reminds us that we don’t have to be “talented” to make an important contribution.


Setbacks didn’t stop Einstein or my fellow football teammate for that matter. Instead, it had the opposite effect. They succeeded through persistence, hard work, and an unstoppable hunger to learn more.

Don’t make the same mistake I made during my football career. Don’t rely too much on your talent. Talent is overrated. I learned that the hard way.

#personal growth