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How to Succeed Without Extraordinary Talents

«When Boise State Football Team gets on the field, they know why they are there and what they have to do to succeed.» This was said by a former BSU Football coach as we discussed the presentations I had given to his deeply talented team compared to teams in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC).

One clarification, talent has its place in life and people who are talented and use their talents well do succeed in extraordinary ways. What I want to make clear is that you can succeed in what you do even if you don’t have talents.

I had given numerous motivational speeches and training sessions for both players and coaches at BSU since 1998. After the above statement, I started paying attention to the key aspects of individuals that required no talent, but lead to enormous success in professional and personal endeavors.

My involvement with BSU Football has been one of the greatest experiences in life. Why would it not be for a Kenyan who comes to the USA with zero football knowledge, then reads about it in newspapers and asks a coach to let him speak to the team about winning, focus, teamwork, staying away from drugs and other destructive off the field activities? Today, I am probably the only human being with several coaches’ uniforms (from several schools) for a sport I had no clue how it was played when my first speaking to the BSU Team. Allow me to add that in 2003, after the team won several conference championships and bowl games; I was honored by being selected as their Grand Marshall for the Homecoming game.

What, however, intrigues me is the performance level of the BSU Football Team, year after year. The WAC teams don’t have deep pockets to compete for talents against upscale football teams. But Boise State football players have what individuals need to succeed in life even if they don’t have noticeable talents.

1. Passion to learn. In 2002, the team had just won the conference championship when one of the players said, «Even champions can get better» as they prepared for a bowl game. The players in this team are teachable. You stand in front, and you can see and feel how they are sucking in every bit of wisdom or practical tip you share. You don’t need talents to be teachable. What you need is desire to learn and discipline to apply learned information.

2. Ability to learn from all available sources. How many coaches out there would risk having someone who had no clue how football is played speak to their team? «Even though you never played football, your understanding of how a team must function as one to be successful is amazingly accurate» wrote Dirk Koetter, Arizona State football head coach after one of my presentations. The tips you need for something that is dear to you may come from unexpected sources.

3. Invest in growth. When last did you attend a seminar or read a book that was not required for your job? When last did you take someone you want to learn from out for breakfast or dinner? In football, time matters in a huge way. To have someone come speak for an hour is a huge investment. You need to invest in your mental, physical and spiritual growth.

4. Self-initiative. This comes with extra trimmings…responsibility for one’s choices, decisions and actions, and putting a plan together for achieving one’s goals. You would be impressed to see young men, in their late teens and early twenties doing what needs to be done without being asked to. No talent is ever needed to be self motivated and doing what needs to be done before one is asked.

5. Flexibility. What talent does one need to change? Some of the players had excelled in certain positions while in high school. However, for their own growth and the team’s success, they learn knew skills for different positions. Change is the currency that will buy you a portion of the future in a world that is changing faster than ever before. No talent needed.

6. Courage to try. I worked with the team several times before I learned who was who and how they had joined the team. Brock Forsey, an outstanding player was a walk-on-a player who was not recruited and had no scholarship but the coaches allows him to join the team after they watch a demo video. Brock was one of the best players the school has ever had. Millions never live up have to their potential because they lack the courage to walk-on into potential opportunities.

7. Steering away from distractions. There is no talent needed to stay away from habits and activities that take your focus and efforts from what you love. This starts with the associates you keep. To succeed you need to have people around you who are positively investing in their own futures.

8. Persistence. Our last child’s name is persistence. No talent, education, money or family connections are needed for one to be persistent. Is your goal important to you? Does is help you live a better life? Then why quit?

9. Be humble. While I have seen these players in team meetings, I rarely recognize then when they come to the classes I teach at BSU. They just blend in with other students. Humility requires no talent.

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