Success at the highest levels requires both talent and skill (hardwork) , as well as some other traits. Talent and skill are complementary, so there shouldn’t be an or in between them, there should instead be an and.
Here is a relevant quote which is particularly relevant to this question:
What is talent? Can it be defined only by its reproduction on a regular basis? Skills are nothing without application, and delivery of results. Certain players have obvious attributes—the ability to swing the ball both ways or to bat with conviction and imagination—but they lack the intangible force to fulfill themselves.
There is a lot of wisdom and depth in these observations, so let’s unpack it line by line.
Note the phrase "reproduction on a regular basis," this part is crucial because it suggests that a few sparks of brilliance are worthless if one wants to achieve true greatness. The best in any field are able to perform consistently for several decades. It is easy to come up with a few flashes of brilliance in a few performances, but the best can keep doing it for a long time without any drop in quality.
True talent needs to be reproducible for anyone to pay attention.
The next sentence is another truism for anyone at the top of their field—you are ultimately judged only by your results and performance. People may give you a bit more leeway if they spot raw talent, but ultimately you will be judged by your results and you will be fired if you don’t produce results over a long enough time.
Also note the word ‘application’, this is very important, because unless one has the mental discipline and strength to fully apply themselves to the situation, all talent is meaningless. One needs to have single-minded focus when performing, otherwise the talent is wasted.
Finally, in the "intangible force to fulfill themselves," which suggests that there is a third unnamable trait or collection of traits that ultimately determine success at the highest levels. These are traits that go beyond merely talent, skill, discipline, etc. It refers to the hunger to succeed, the thirst for perfection, humility to enable growth, honest self-reflection, self-belief, etc. One can have all the talent in the world, but without these X-factors they will never succeed at the highest levels. This is what I think constitutes the ‘intangible force’ that is needed for success. The world has many examples of highly talented people who failed to make it in the major leagues, and they would have lacked this “intangible force”.
I think this is the best description I’ve come across of what it takes to succeed in highly competitive and challenging disciplines and careers, which is unsurprising.
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