“The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work.”

-Emile Zola


It may seem counterintuitive, but I’ve witnessed firsthand how talent kept individuals near the bottom of the ladder. Specifically, it was their inability to manage themselves in relation to their talent. Emile Zola once said, “The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without the work.” So if you’re not careful, you may find yourself with little career growth if you neglect to work on the points below.

Your talent blinds you from seeing anything else

Have you heard of the cognitive bias selective perception? Essentially, your frame of reference is skewed from what you see and limits alternate reference points. When you focus on your talent exhaustively, you neglect to see talent in others. How does this hold you back? When you neglect to see talent in others, you neglect to recognize them for their contributions. Recognizing fellow employees and building relationships is essential to one’s growth. As you climb the ladder you’ll likely want or need their support, otherwise leading them one day will be like pulling teeth.

You have all the answers and let it be known

Okay, this one’s tricky. I’m not suggesting intellect flat lines growth, or that offering solutions is a bad thing. What I’m referring to is always having the answers and never giving others a chance. It’s like the kid in school who couldn’t stay seated after every question was asked. You know the one, “Ooh, ooh, me, me, me.”

Speaking from an organizations standpoint, individuals who can facilitate groups to find solutions are of equal value to those who possess them. A true leader can facilitate groups to find solutions while being comfortable without having them personally. Perhaps you have all the answers, which is great, but I’d encourage you to practice facilitating. You will develop an invaluable skill, and your organization will take notice.

You have the superhero syndrome

I’m not piggy-backing off empirical evidence from the actual “hero syndrome.” I’m referring to this concept separately. When you believe the letter ‘I’ belongs in the word ‘team,’ then Houston we have a problem. Eric Thomas once said, “Your talent can take you places your character can’t keep you.”

Be careful when believing you can take on the world alone. An organization is most successful when each individual is playing their position in unity. As you operate, be sure to value teamwork – it’s important. The ability to work with others is character excellence and will be essential to your career growth.

You have a chip on your shoulder

You’ve heard the expression before, “they walk around with a chip on their shoulder.” And though many situations ignite the ‘chip,’ there’s one in particular that guarantees its presence. When someone is promoted who is perceived to have lesser talent. Has this happened to you? Were you more qualified and someone else got the role? Then I caution you, look at your shoulder and drop the chip. It’s the fastest way to get overlooked again. Don’t allow yourself to exude disgust. Find peace, applaud the person, and keep moving.

Now, if your chip exists from having more talent in your pinky than everyone else, then bring it down a notch. Confidence is one thing, but disgust from “living among peasants” is another. Be humble or you will remain at the bottom – guaranteed.

Final thoughts

As you climb the ladder remember you always leave something behind. It’s like the story the “Nails in the fence.” After the boy removes the nails, which symbolizes hateful words, there are holes left behind. As you climb, be cautious of the holes you leave behind. Be mindful of your behaviors in relation to your talent and only leave positive impressions as you take the next step.

As always thanks for taking the time to read and I’d love to hear your thoughts below!

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