Recently I was having a conversation with a dear friend who confided in me that she could never be a good speaker because she lacked the "gift." Before I could respond the conversation shifted. But the question lingers: why do we continue to believe the fallacy about the preeminence of "giftedness" when people are really good at something? We know, for example, that Team USA's ice-dancing stars Meryl Davis and Charlie White have been training together for 17(!) years, but we still think that being "gifted" is the primary ingredient for their success. I am not saying that their talent isn't part of the equation, but I know many extraordinarily talented people who are not anywhere near the top of their professions. Talent is just the beginning.
Most of us try a sport, hobby, or profession because we feel an affinity for it; it's something we find we're good at. That initial talent provides the spark, but hard work and discipline fan the flame of later success. Watching the Olympics I imagine that the long journey each of athlete there began with at least a few easy steps. What separates these world class competitors from the rest of us is their willingness to push themselves when it stops being easy, to put in the hours and years of hard work, to dedicate themselves almost single-mindedly to their sport.
So next time you watch those Olympic skaters, skiers, hockey-players, and bobsledders, think about the lifetimes they spent developing their initial "gifts" into world-class skills. It makes the time you will spend preparing and polishing your next speech seem like a walk in the park, indeed!