When You Stop Worrying About Talent and Just Get to Work

I’ll never forget the day a mentor in my PhD program took me to lunch. We sat in a room surrounded by prestigious professors who talked about important things. I felt small in my seat and so young. I felt like I didn’t belong.

And then he said this:

“Now that you’re here, just remember it’s not about talent anymore or who is the smartest. It’s actually about who will sit down and just do the work.”

I remembered those words as I wrote my dissertation, as I wrote books, and as I designed curriculum for college classrooms.

And this morning, I read this from James Clear: “Lack of confidence kills more dreams than lack of ability. Talent matters—especially at elite levels—but people talk themselves out of giving their best effort long before talent becomes the limiting factor. You’re capable of more than you know. Don’t be your own bottleneck.”

Confidence and just doing the work: this helps me when I feel stuck and fearful that I’m not good enough at something.

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