Do you simply rely on your innate gifts or is your natural talent holding you back? Brownell’s Vice President of Talent Development Kerry Dyer examines this notion below.
I am not a runner. When it comes to a race, my primary role is standing on the side with a Bloody Mary in hand cheering on the runners. Completing a marathon has never been a goal of mine or even a consideration for my bucket list. It was not on Deena Kastor’s list, either, but today she is an Olympic Medalist and American record holder in the marathon. In her book Let Your Mind Run, Deena tells her story of achieving success with a clear message: talent will only take you so far.
Deena was born with the gift of speed over medium distances. Grade school through college, she was an accomplished runner in the company of other successful sprinters, but she had an inconsistent racing record of placing first. Because she could count on her physical ability, she was essentially phoning it in for each race, “pushed by the fear of losing rather than the triumph of winning” as she describes.
After college, she finally reached the point of burn out, explaining that she had relied on talent for so long and the genes she was born with were the only thing propelling her running. As she considered quitting entirely, she was inspired to move to Colorado to train with a coach known for developing Olympic athletes. This coach believed in “cultivating positivity as a competitive edge” – engaging your mind to push you when your physical ability (or other talent) wains.
While physical conditioning was, of course, a significant component of training these athletes, it is mental conditioning that supported the physical drive and performance. The fitness routine for the mind was critical to developing professional athletes. It goes beyond mind over matter. Rather than ignore the pain in your hip, the steep hill ahead, or the bitter wind hitting your face, you recognize those challenges, accept them, and use them to gain greater strength to continue. By engaging her mental possibility to support her physical ability, Deena moved beyond her natural talent as a fast runner to even greater achievement as a long distance runner.
We are all born with special gifts and talents, but the irony is that often it is our natural talent holding us back. When we simply lean on talents to get us where we want to go, we miss the opportunity to push our talents to create a new path. Talent will only take you so far.
To maximize our full potential, we must change our thinking. We need to shape our minds to be more encouraging, kind, and resilient. This process is different than visualizing – picturing a goal as the force to pull us forward. Instead, it is maximizing the moment to propel us forward. Goals are necessary but elusive without focusing on the positive of today. While it is important to recognize and optimize our talents, relying on them entirely can inhibit achieving our true potential. We need to build upon our talents rather than rely upon them.
While this book is about running, Deena’s story of reaching peak performance through fully engaging your mind and allowing it to shape your perception and perspective of ourselves and others stretches far beyond the track. Anyone who strives to grow beyond their current state can apply what Deena teaches to their own situation. In your ongoing quest to reach both personal and professional goals, change your thinking and shape your mind to be more supportive of yourself. Be a part of the process rather than pushing through just to cross the finish line.
“Progress lies not in enhancing what is, but in advancing toward what will be.” – Khalil Gibran