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10 Ways to Excel at Work That Require ZERO Special Talents

April 8, 2021 Molly Fletcher

As we strive to rise to the challenge of leading and living in a world changed by an unprecedented and ongoing health crisis, we are all having to do more than ever before. Stress is up. Burnout is on the rise. And sometimes, rising to the occasion can make us feel like we need superhuman abilities and special talents just to get through the day.

Here’s a new point of view I want you to adopt: There are many ways for you to excel in your job and in your career that require zero special talents.

These are competencies and skills that you already have—and you can rely on them to help you excel during a time when your day can feel overwhelming, and goals feel unattainable.

And, if you’re ready to unlock a true deep dive on how to make the most of your time and energy, be sure to check out my latest book, The Energy Clock, and join me at the Women in Leadership Institute this fall.

Here are 10 behaviors that you can always control that require zero talent yet have a huge impact on your success:

  1. Being on time. Punctuality is a keystone habit that requires organization and planning—both of which lead to greater success. Here’s a good primer on why being on time is important and how anyone can make it a habit.
  2. Work ethic. This is the discipline of showing up consistently and making the best decisions that lead to peak performance. Even at the pinnacle of his career, basketball superstar Kobe Bryant’s work ethic was legendary. Kevin Durant recalls the message a veteran Kobe sent the younger players at Olympic Trials back in 2008, just after Durant’s first year in the league. The players were given a day off, but there was Kobe, the only veteran, getting on the bus to go work out at a high school gym. “He made 50 shots at each spot around the 3-point line,” Durant recalls. “We just looked down there and said, ‘Man, he’s the best player in the league and he took a bus to a high school to get some work in.’ It’s that work ethic that Kobe embraced throughout his career to become one of the all-time greats. As Kobe said after getting drafted straight out of high school in 1996, ‘I don’t want (fans) to think I’m just a high school kid coming in here thinking the world owes me something. I’m going to go out there and I’m going to work.’”
  3. Effort. Few athletes worked as hard as major league pitcher John Smoltz, who is now in the Baseball Hall of Fame. As his agent, I saw him extend his career by years through sheer effort and commitment. He made up his mind to make changes along the way, like going from starter to closer, that kept him in the game as a valuable contributor to his team. Effort is a mindset as much as it is a behavior.
  4. Body language. How you move and express yourself around others shapes who you are and how you are perceived. Anyone can improve, and here’s a TED talk that explains why and how.
  5. Energy. Everyone has energy to devote to a goal, and the decision of how much to give. Be conscious about where yours goes. For more on this, check out my latest book.
  6. Attitude. It’s up to you to keep going. No one else can decide that. A great attitude maximizes the talent that you do have and offsets what you lack.
  7. Passion. Having passion is the single most important way each one of us can suffocate the fear that keeps us from peak performance.
  8. Being coachable. Anyone can become a better listener, learn from feedback, and embrace the success of others.
  9. Doing extra. Go the extra mile. I saw it all the time with the athletes I worked with. The ones who sustained their success were the ones who consistently worked at their craft beyond what was required. That extra work and preparation fosters confidence. We can all learn from this approach and exceed our own expectations.
  10. Being prepared. Only you can give yourself the time and space to be as ready as you can be. Make it a habit, and you will make the most of your talent. There is great truth in the saying: Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.

Your Game Changer Takeaway

Remember that talent is never enough. The best of the best don’t rest on what they were born with—they dig down to get the most they can. Try these 10 things (or just one!) and over time it will pay off.

Molly Fletcher is the author of The Energy Clock: 3 Simple Steps to Create a Life Full of ENERGY—and Live Your Best Every Day. She returns to the Women in Leadership Institute™ this November 3–9, 2021. Register now to join Molly in person in Orlando, Florida, or virtually.

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