The Dark Side of Being Talented

2 min read

Talent at a craft does not breed respect for the craft. It can’t, because it hasn’t been earned.

At King High School in Tampa, there was a young man who was one of the most phenomenal football players I’d ever seen.

He was a running back named Raymond Neal.

Raymond was the stuff of legends. He had the fastest one step acceleration I’d ever seen. As soon as he touched the ball, he dissolved. Blink and you’d miss it. He was already in the end zone.

I remember one carry during a spring scrimmage where he seemed to cut across the field 15 times, making every single defender miss, then turned it into overdrive and streaked down the sideline like he was running a 100-yard dash.

He made it look easy. He was a giant amongst boys.

At 16 years old, he already had the eye of the top colleges in the nation and it seemed like he was touched by God to have his choice of destinations.

But it was never to be.

Raymond had a dark side. And was in the wrong environment. The summer of sophomore year, he got involved in a spree of car thefts that landed him in prison.

Tried as an adult, he was there for 3 years and his myth faded.

I looked at this young boy, myself even younger at the time and the only thing I could wonder was…


Why would someone with such God-given gifts throw them all away?

Kids in disadvantaged environments, with bad influences, making bad decisions, is a story as old as time. Yet for some reason, this memory has stuck with me for nearly 20 years.

And now…I finally understand the mechanism of psychology that contributes to this fall from grace — because I see it in myself (albeit not in a criminal sense).

What I’ve learned is that talent is the signal, not the destination.

Many of us have a heavy dose of God-given talent in the things that interest us, but there’s a wide chasm between what you’re naturally good at and what you truly succeed at.

Talent at a craft does not breed respect for the craft. It can’t, because it hasn’t been earned.

Quick success and ease has come to me in athletics, business and creativity. And oftentimes, that talent has been a false flag for completion of my true goals.

It feels good to succeed — but you don’t really learn anything.

In business, I experienced a great deal of early success and I can’t say that there wasn’t hard work involved. I’ve busted my ass — but always within the limits of my comfort zone.

If something didn’t match with my existing skills, I looked for ways to avoid getting better at it. This has not always been a conscious decision and my gaps have often been overshadowed by my strengths.

Deep down, I was always moving by instinct. I never respected the craft of business enough to truly master it because there’s a part of me that expected my natural abilities to carry me.

And still deeper, there’s a part of me that has never taken it seriously. Maybe it’s all the mushrooms reminding me that we’re all going to die anyway. That nothing actually matters and we are all spirits experiencing human form briefly.

That’s true. And yet, that outlook doesn’t create results in the human form.

What I have learned this year is that if you don’t respect your talent, it’s impossible to master it. And if you don’t master the things you’re talented at, it’s hard to respect yourself completely. At least this is true for me.

In 2023, I’m committed to expressing not just my ability, but my dedication to pushing beyond what comes “naturally” and learning to treat every part of my business journey with the care and attention that I would if I didn’t have any natural ability at all.

That’s the only way I’m going to grow beyond my current form.

Maybe this is something worthy of your consideration, too.

Much love,

PS — if you want to get your mind right for 2023, I highly recommend you check out my guided audio series Power Packs.

Power Packs Vol. I

Power Packs is a 34-Minute Guided Audio Series Designed To Give Your Brain & Business a Boost. You’ll Learn:

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