Grit versus Talent: What is the real difference that makes the difference?

December 15, 2016 |Gideon Hanekom

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Would you rather be talented or be tough, as in have grit? And, how much would you want? In fact, how much talent do you believe you really need to be successful? These are interesting questions to consider.

If I can be honest, on many occasions, I’ve found myself desiring more talent for certain things. I used to believe that unless you were blessed with the right DNA, you have a major disadvantage to others with talent, which meant making peace with average results. But I eventually learned it was all a myth.

It only seems to make all the difference if you want to stand out and be more successful like others with more talent.

For example, all the athletes and actors we see on TV seem to have a lot of talent, and many of them do.

But having the resolve to continue under any circumstance, i.e. have grit, can be much more valuable and can be applied to all areas of life.

Also, the truth is that not all of them have equal amounts of talent. I’ve learned that talent is not a prerequisite for success, even though it does help hugely under the right circumstances.

So, if you feel you were outdone by the Universe in the gene department, just have a read here first. In this post, we will look at the difference, some advantages and limitations of grit versus talent.

basketball 1481342190 grit

Let’s talk about talent first.

Talent has advantages, but is overrated

Talent can make the journey easier.

If you have a talent for a particular area, such as music, you’ll have an easier time making progress. No doubt about that.

The journey will be smoother and faster.

It’s far easier learning any skill if you have the talent for it.

But, you can’t rely on your talent only, even if it does make things a lot simpler than without.

Since it is an advantage to have, I would encourage your to cash in on it while you have the chance.

Remember though, as, with any muscle, talent also become dormant with non-use. It might make the journey to success easier to some extent, but if you don’t use it you might find you’re starting to lose it.

Talent is insufficient.

Following on from the previous point, even though talent makes things a lot simpler, it does not eliminate the need for practice.

The truth is talent without practice is no more valuable than not having the talent in the first place.

The athletes you see on TV have both talent and years of intense practice.

In fact, some experts talk about the 10,000-hour rule which says that it takes roughly about 10,000 hours of intense, deliberate practise to master any skill.

Some other experts have since challenged that idea but, regardless of what you believe or what the exact amount of time is, the principle that talent still needs a lot of practice holds water regardless.

Therefore, if you have talent in some area of life or business, you still need to make sure you plan constant and ongoing improvement to maximise that talent.

Again, if you don’t use it you lose it.


So, don’t simply rely on what you bring to the table naturally, as the world is filled with unsuccessful geniuses.

Apply your talent, stay focused, and keep practising.

Constant and consistent practise is the sure path to mastery.

Talent isn’t a choice.

You can’t choose to have a particular talent. You either have it or you don’t.

Therefore, what I’ve learned is, there is no point in feeling cheated by nature.

I would much rather spend my time discovering the skills and talents I do have, and consider how I can use those to improve my life or live life to the maximum.

Ideally, your interests and talents should be in alignment.

It is a fact that building on your strengths is a much faster way to achieving better results than trying to improve your weaknesses.

Too many times we are trying to eliminate our weaknesses that we don’t spend enough time improving or expanding our strengths; which is a faster way to achieving your goals.

work 1481753084 grit

Talent isn’t a choice, but just because you’re not like other “more talented” people, doesn’t mean you have no talents.

It simply means you need to discover your own and align your activities, job, hobbies etc. with it.

You will find that life will flow a lot easier once you do that.

Talent is only necessary at the highest levels.

Can you be the world’s greatest pianist or golfer without talent? Perhaps not.

But,  that doesn’t mean you need to give up on it.

Being good enough is still good enough to make a good living playing the piano or playing golf without much talent, provided you work hard enough and long enough of course.

There’s nothing wrong with being talented. The more talent, the better.

But talent isn’t enough to ensure success.

It only determines the extreme upper limits of your success.

And just because you’re not the greatest at something, doesn’t mean that you can’t still be somewhat great.

success 1481753152 grit

Let’s talk about grit now.

Personally, if you’re like me, this is where I would throw my chips.

I’m pretty good at quite a few things. Some things I’m really good at. But I’m not world-class at anything in particular, yet ;)

This means that I need to rely on something else apart from talent alone.

And that thing is, grit; the ability to push forward and keep pursuing my goals regardless of obstacles or “lack of talent.”

Some of the greatest success stories in the world all share one theme – grit out doing talent.

Grit can be enough to ensure success in all areas of life.

Here are some aspects of the power of grit

Grit is enough to achieve 99% of your goals.

Forget about talent.

If you have the ability to persist and maintain a positive attitude, you can be successful at almost anything.

As I said earlier, some of the greatest success stories in the world all share the common theme of grit being enough to achieve extraordinary results.

effort 1481753255 grit

And when I say grit, I simply mean having a tenacious attitude that’s not willing to give up but keep pressing forward until the desired goal is achieved.

All people can choose to do this, but not many people will do it.

In fact, one can even argue, that the willingness to choose this attitude is a talent in itself.

Fortunately for you and me, it’s one we can choose; unlike natural talents like singing.

Anyone can have grit. Grit is the result of a certain way of thinking and viewing the world.

Here is a great fact of life …

You can choose your beliefs and your thoughts!

Therefore, you can have grit. All it requires is a choice.

Therefore,  start today.

Make yourself do something that you don’t want to do, like clean out your desk or purge your unneeded emails.

Be tough and get it done.

By starting small and developing this discipline of doing things that you dislike, you develop the muscle of endurance and perseverance.

In short, your grit gets stronger.

For me right now, it’s opening and sorting the pile of unopened mail and documents lying on my desk after our short holiday break :)

It needs to get done and I know I have to do it. Doing it, will strengthen my ability to work through things I dislike which will serve me in the long run.

envelopes 1481753373 grit

So, start small, find something you really dislike doing around your house and get it done.

Grit begets grit.

As I said before, developing grit is like building your biceps (a muscle).

Your ability to demonstrate resolve grows with practice. As with a muscle, the more you train it the more it develops.

Therefore, make yourself do something each day that’s unappealing.

It might not be fun at the moment, but it will develop the discipline of pushing forward when you most want to give up.

Doing this in the small insignificant tasks will set you up for the big challenges coming your way.

If I want to finish an Ironman but have never done a triathlon, it will be insanity to start with an Ironman. Wouldn’t it?

It’s much smarter trying to swim the length of an Olympic swimming pool first, or running 5 km, or biking for 10 km, before embarking on the quest of completing an Ironman.

The same goes with Grit. Apply it and use it over time so that it can strengthen for when it is most required in the future.

Grit is calming.

That might seem counterintuitive, but it’s true.

When you have determination, you don’t have any choices to make.

You simply keep moving forward.

Constant self-questioning is stressful and exhausting. I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced this, but it’s true.

Having too many choices creates anxiety.

But, when you only have a single choice, life is simpler.

focus 1481753462 grit

So having determination creates focus and consequently simplicity, which is great for moving forward in pursuit of your goals.

In fact, I know guys that have some talent in business as an example, but their success is not the result of their talent (or lack thereof) …

They are successful because they are determined to achieve their goals come hell or high water. Nothing will deter them from achieving what they set out to achieve.

Equally, I know others with far more natural potential, that is not that successful because they lack the tenacity to keep pursuing their goals.

It’s great to have talent, but grit can take you further.

If you have both, well, then I’m sure you are already crushing it.

Final thoughts …

Grit is among the most important attributes to possess.

Grit can overcome a lack of talent in most situations. And the great thing about it is, it’s free. All it requires is a decision.

Unless you need to be in the top 0.25% of something, talent is irrelevant. It only makes the journey a little easier.

So, grit versus talent, which is better?

Well, the amount of grit you possess is more relevant than the amount of talent you possess.

Talent is nice to have. It’s like having a sports car instead of a new economy sedan. But both will take you to the same place.

One just takes longer.

weight training 1481753568 grit

However, all the talent in the world is useless if it isn’t applied diligently.

The ability to persist during any challenge is the real key to long-term success.

Therefore, take control of your beliefs on success and your perspective on life.

Believe that persistence is more important than talent. Hopefully, you have some of both, but if you don’t, work on developing and strengthening grit.

Because if you can only have one, grit is more useful.

To your success!

About the author

Gideon Hanekom

Gideon Hanekom is the creator of, a popular relationship blog that ranks among the top 50 relationship blogs in 2024. The website helps couples to create happier, healthier, and more intimate relationships. Gideon is a trained professional counsellor and holds post-graduate degrees in Theology and Psychology. His articles have also been featured on respected platforms such as and The Good Men Project.

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