// you’re reading...

Beating the Odds

No Special Gift

Comedian Steve Martin was the subject of a recent biography on TV.

In it, he says of himself, “I had no special gift. What I had was focus and a little bit of obsession. I thought, ‘There’s going to be a changing of the guard and someone new will come along. Why not me?’”

No wonder Martin became such a success. Those few words contain a blueprint for anyone aspiring to greatness.

First, he had no special gift. The more scientists study great achievers, the less they find evidence of a special gift. As the Geoff Colvin book says, “Talent is Over-Rated.” But too many people try something once and, when they don’t succeed, say, “I just don’t have the ability.”

Second, Martin never had the time to think about whether or or he had ability. He was too busy focusing and, yes, even obsessing, over how to make people laugh. His TV biography shows him in a variety of comic settings. He also juggled and danced.

Third, he saw possibilities for himself. Success wasn’t just for others; it was something to which he could aspire. Many people love to listen to great motivational stories, and tales of people overcoming great odds. But deep down, for too many people, these happy endings are reserved for others. It never occurs to them that they can be the star of their own miracle. Martin asked the question, “Why not me?”

Finally, Martin had the courage to try. Have you ever told someone, “You belong on stage?” I have. Years ago I knew a young woman who could walk into a room and immediately have everyone laughing. I told her to give comedy a try. She never did. Maybe she wasn’t interested; maybe she was reluctant to try. Whatever the reason, she never walked down that road.

So here’s the moral of Martin’s tale. Success is there for you. It can belong to you as much as to anyone else. You don’t even need a special gift. All you need is focus and, yes, some obsession.


No comments for “No Special Gift”

Post a comment