We are all the same

Talent doesn't exist

The studies of Swedish psychologist Anders Ericsson (I recommend his amazing book “Peak”) show, that having talent or “being born with it”, is an unconfirmed hypothesis. That means we cannot confirm “talent” exists.

Every single one of the so-called talents, for example, Mozart, can be traced back to years of what is now termed “deliberate practice”, which means intensive practice where we are actively working on improving our skills. If possible, with the help of a coach or a mentor, if we haven’t yet developed the necessary mental models of how exactly our performance should be. Mozart was under the influence of his father who was a music teacher with an unlived dream of making it big. Mozart was groomed into a musician from the age of two.

So “talent” perhaps doesn’t even exist. Not in sports, music, acting, anywhere.

We should still acknowledge there are differences between us, human beings. Certain people can have better predispositions for certain activities than others. Micheal Phelps, 23 times Olympic gold medalist in swimming was born with short legs, a big torso and a wingspan larger than his size. Besides this, he also has a large lung capacity, and his body produces low levels of lactic acid. All characteristics that are great for a swimmer.

And still, he had to train 6 days a week for 5 – 6 hours to become number 1. He had to push through the ups and downs like everybody else. These predispositions just enabled him to be that 0.01 % better than the rest. That one-hundredth of a second so that he was the winner. Everything else, the 99,99 % he had to fight hard and struggle for.

This is the reality.

Our actions are driving our lives

Ok so if talent doesn’t exist and all the best in the world at anything had to work hard to get to where they are, what does this have to do with our lives?

We just want a more fulfilling job, extra vacation, better relationship with our spouse, money for a new car or an apartment, getting that promotion, more free time, starting that business, meet the husband or wife of our dreams et cetera.

We maybe look at people on TV who were born under a “lucky star” in rich or famous families and have everything we ever wanted. But we haven’t been born in such families. Are we destined to the life of a rat race, 9-5, eat, watch tv, sleep, repeat?

We most certainly are not.

Accepting reality

Let’s look at our current reality. What got us where we are today? It’s what we were doing every day for our whole life that got us to this exact moment today with the life we have.

All the actions we ever took led us to where we are right now. Yes, we were born into a certain family at a certain time and place, this was our start.

But if we were spending our time in a different way, we would have a different life. This makes sense right? If instead of eating, we would exercise, we would have a better physique. If we were reading books instead of watching TV, we would have more knowledge.

We can accept this.

So even if we don’t have the “talent” or the needed prerequisite to become the top 0.01 % gold medalist, we still have the option to become the top 99,99 % in any endeavour we chose. We probably have the 0.01 % potential in something, we just have to work hard to find and develop it. Micheal Phelps maybe wouldn’t even know he has the perfect body for a swimmer if he was born in a different place at a different time.

But luckily it doesn’t matter. An amazing life awaits us in the 99,99 %. It awaits us in our growth. We can become the best carpenter, trainer, businessmen, engineer, teacher, nurse, doctor, lawyer, whatever. The best father, husband, lover, friend, party planner or couch potato.

It takes practice

Becoming good at something will just take years and years of deliberate practice. That’s it. It’s as simple as that.

When you work on something long enough in a way that you are improving every day, you become an expert. Micheal Phelps or Mozart didn’t just jump in a pool to do a few laps or play a tune. They trained, a single stroke, a single note 1000s of times until it was perfect. You can do the same in your work if you want to improve. If you want to become better. Nobody is stopping you! Nothing is stopping you!

The problem is we often get discouraged. We see people that are younger, and more successful and we think they were born with it. That everything was given to them, maybe they have rich parents, are more talented, it’s easy for them. They are naturals.

But as we discovered before, we are all born without a special talent. It’s just our ego, our comfort zone telling us “you can’t do it; you will start tomorrow”.

A large majority of us are exactly the same even with the same predispositions. Besides some genetic differences, we are the same.

Yes, our ancestors gave us their genes. If we come from a family of scholars that were developing their minds, they were actually signalling genes to develop in a certain way. So we could potentially have a little bit of a head start. Like Micheal Phelps with his long torso and short legs.

But this is just potential. We could develop the genes further or not during our lifetime by working on it or not.

Tabula rasa - clean slate

When we are born, we are potential. A “tabula rasa”. As we already mention, we have some predispositions transferred to us. Maybe we can’t be the number one swimmer or skier, but we could become the number one tennis player or a cellist, or a businessman or a painter.
We already have some marks on the paper of our life, on our “clean slate”, but we can still make a beautiful painting using those marks that came with the paper.

And now we come to the interesting part. The part that makes the biggest difference and affects how the painting looks before we become conscious and start painting what we actually want: our upbringing. The influences we had. The beliefs we grew up with. The thoughts, emotions and consequently the actions we took.

Because the actions we take in our life, which is what got us to where we are today, are the results of our thoughts and emotions about those actions. And our thoughts and emotions are in accordance with what we believe. They stem from our beliefs about the world. How things should be, what’s right, what’s wrong, what’s good and what’s bad.

This is what separates who we are today from others in the 99,99 %. Our actions and not innate talent or predispositions.

And we inherited our beliefs when we were a child, in our formative years. Even before we became conscious of the world, we were influenced. If we were threatened when we were just two years old, we will learn that the world is a dangerous place. Because of this belief, our actions will be a representation of this. we will not take a chance on the new career, on a potential mate. we will be afraid to reach out.

All this could happen because of an event over which we had no control. When we were completely helpless as a child. But it was imprinted in us. We don’t know it now. We probably don’t even remember the event until we start digging. It’s unconscious but it is affecting every single decision we make in our life.

So what happens if, on the side of the street, we have a neighbour with supportive parents that brought him in the belief that he can do it, that failing is ok, that he can trust himself and on the other side of the street, there is a person living in fear, believing he is not good enough, smart enough, he just doesn’t have a talent, he can’t do anything.

They were 99.99 % alike at birth. They both had the same potential to explore and grow in life but they took 30 years of completely different actions. Every single day one neighbour was taking action because he felt empowered, and the other neighbour was afraid of stepping up because he was taught making mistakes is bad in his caregiver’s eyes.

And unfortunately, when we are adults, these beliefs we formed as children don’t melt away. We still hold on to them as if we were still two or five years old. They still guide us even if they are the product of our emotional states a couple of decades ago. Every single day.

This is what makes a difference between a successful person and a not-so-successful person. Yes, it’s easier for some. Yes, some are born rich with happy, successful, empowering parents and influences. There are a lot of people that had a better jumpstart than we have. On the other hand, there is a whole world of people that had a much worse beginning.

But now that we know what we are dealing with, we can change the current of our lives.

Changing beliefs

Now we are aware of the fact that we are all the same, that we are just a massive potential, a tabula rasa. What separates us is just beliefs, which produce thoughts that produce feelings that produce actions. And actions are the bridge from the inside world to the outside, the material world.

Today we have the option to deconstruct all these beliefs and construct a new personality capable of doing everything we want to do. Now we are aware we are exactly the same as rich folks or successful and famous or anyone that has what we have. They just have some headstart, because they were operating from a different set of beliefs and took different actions in their lifetime.

We are not “worse” than them. we were just simply operating from beliefs that didn’t serve us that well. And these beliefs caused us to take actions that didn’t take us where we want to be. They sure didn’t take me. That is why I had to make a change. Digestive issues for 10 years and insomnia were the product of my beliefs. That’s all I had to show off at the age of 29.

T. Harv Ecker says it brilliantly in his book The secrets of a millionaire mind: If we thought what rich people think and did what rich people do, do we believe we would become rich as well? The focus of his book is money and financial success but the same goes for any other area of life. If we were thinking and doing the same actions as those that have what we want, we would also achieve the same results

Fortunately, we also don’t need that much time as we were operating with false beliefs to reverse and make massive shifts in our lives and become much happier. This process, the progress is what actually brings joy. And you can experience it much sooner than you thought. You can notice shifts in just weeks or months. In one year, the shift can already be massive! But we need to take action!

Our Identity

Our parents taught us what they believed was the right thing. And a lot of that could be wrong. This is very hard to accept sometimes. Some of these beliefs may be familiar to you:

  1. Go to school, then we will have a good job.
  2. Rich people are greedy and bad.
  3. Money is bad and we shouldn’t want it.
  4. Mistakes are wrong.
  5. You should sacrifice your well-being for others.
  6. Saying “no” is not acceptable.
  7. You are not good enough.
  8. Life is a struggle.

You can probably list some of the other beliefs you heard from your parents or at least their attitude towards life, money, politicians, etc. and you probably can see how you maybe unwillingly operate from similar ones.

We lived with these beliefs so of course, we couldn’t create a life where we are free to create our own job, where we have money, where we are free to explore and make mistakes, where we feel unconditionally accepted and enough.

These beliefs were guiding us to our thoughts and emotions. If we believe that money is bad, how can we expect to have it? Would you own a car if you believed it was a bad thing to own a car? Absolutely not. We don’t want to be bad in our caregivers’ eyes and consequently in our own eyes. And if we think money is bad and then we get it, this would mean we are bad. And of course, we don’t want that. Unconscious beliefs unfortunately win against our rational brain when it comes to such deep-rooted scenarios. We may have learned rationally that making mistakes is a good thing if we learn from them. Or that money is just money, it’s not the “root of all evil”, but what lies deep down inside of us is what’s really driving our life.

We unconsciously make decisions that create a reality where we don’t have money. We get thoughts like “I don’t deserve this, It’s too much”, we get a feeling of shame, If we would be earning more than our family etc. Or guilt if we put our needs in front of someone else and say “no”. We think we are selfish but in reality, that is the best thing you can do for the world.

If we think making mistakes is wrong, how likely are we to try something new, change a job that is not working for us, or even change careers or start a business? If we berate ourselves for making mistakes, we will just try to survive through the day without getting hurt. We won’t go for the things we really want because we risk making mistakes. Our thoughts and emotions will try to steer us in the direction of the familiar, the known. Towards feeling unfulfilled, unfree, restricted, but comfortable in the familiar situation. We know all this so we know we can live with it. We don’t even know we are throwing our lives away. A small child will cry and fight when being taken from his abusive mother even if she hits and mistreats him in all possible ways because this is what is familiar. We think we are different but are we actually? We will stay on the same place, jobs, and relationships because it is known.

If we think we are not good enough, it will never matter how much we achieve, we will still think we are not good enough. Robert Holden wrote in his book: “No amount of self-improvement can make up for the lack of self-acceptance”.

We can become a doctor, earn a PhD, and make millions, but we will still feel exactly the same. “That’s not good enough, we should have and be even more. We should do even better.” All because deep down we believe we are not enough. We can become successful in the outside but deep down we will feel like failures, imposters and unworthy. It won’t be enough and we will strive for more. Because we think just another million or another title will get us where we want to be. How we want to feel. This is the fallacy. That until we look behind this pattern of achieving, and wanting more, we will never be satisfied with anything. Because let’s face it, there is always another level above us in some area of our lives. Even the richest and most successful people can look at someone and find something in which the other person is better. And a new project, another million in the bank, another time we put the needs of others in front of our own needs will not resolve this feeling. There is always some new demand around the corner. It never stops until we discover the main reasons for these beliefs in our lives.

It usually has to do with expectations we felt as children. When did we get approval and love? Was it enough to just “be” to feel good enough or accepted, or did we feel we have to prove our worth through some endeavor? If we had to prove ourselves as toddlers, we will still be proving ourselves as adults.

The problem is we are searching for solutions in the outside world. It’s the belief that’s the problem, not the outside reality. And sometimes we even start identifying with labels. We want to achieve something because we think that will help us live a better life. But we identify as someone who is struggling. This just means that even if we actually achieve what we think we want, we will still continue to struggle. Because this is who we are. We are not a happy person, confident, grateful, or passionate person. And why not? Because we don’t identify as such. So we don’t act in accordance with these possibilities. We haven’t yet created these for ourselves.

This notion is thoroughly discussed in the book Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz. It’s about how our self-image impacts our actions. If we believe we are “bad at math” or “a failure”, we will do anything to support these beliefs. We will not study for an exam because we already know we will fail, so what’s the point? And of course, then it actually happens, we get an F and reinforce this belief. But we didn’t actually try, we didn’t even study. Because it would be wrong for us to ace that math test or do well at something. If we identify as a failure, we obviously can’t be good at anything.

This is a simple way of understanding and researching what is in our minds. If I ask you now, who do you identify as, what would be your answer? Try this exercise. How Are you living up to these beliefs of yourself? Do you want to? How could you redefine your identity to be more in line with your values and your goals?

Developing a realistic self-image

I always considered myself a striver. I thought that was great because this means I will achieve something in life. But do I want to be a striver? Striving in my example was filled with never being satisfied, with the feeling of not being enough. With always wanting more. This is how I considered myself, that I need to do more and be more to “make it” in life. If I look back, I wanted to prove my self-worth in my parent’s eyes and make them proud by being successful and financially well-off.

But the problem is in this identification. No matter what I would achieve, I would still consider myself a striver. That wouldn’t change. I could have all the worldly riches that the striving brought me, but I would still feel worthless inside. I would still strive for more.

So now I am identifying myself as a happy person, a passionate person, a warm, loving and relaxed person. A helping person. Reliable. Full of life. Spiritual. And I want to be acting according to these. This is my new identity. And the actions I am taking are in line with my beliefs, and my identity. Because otherwise, it can’t work. We can’t identify in one way but our actions speak a completely different story.

I am far from perfect. I am not always acting as such a person. But I am doing my best. And that’s good enough.

“Your actions speak so loudly, I can not hear what you are saying.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

We already established we can’t act differently as we identify. So I suggest you also check yourself. Who do you identify as? You will quickly see patterns in your life that you want to change. I certainly saw them when doing the exercise.

We can call this our meta program. We think striving will help us get somewhere but in reality, we just get the “striving”. We don’t get the rewards of striving because we are a striver. We are not “enjoyer”, a person who enjoys what they strived for. No, we are a striver every single day. We live like that.

So this is the problem of thinking that by doing some actions we will get somewhere. That detour will get us to where we want to go. We are pursuing money and success because we think they will enable us peace and good life. But this is not the case. Only by identifying ourselves as being peaceful and living a good life, expressing gratitude for who we are and what we have today, is how we reach our goal of peace and a good life. Money and success have nothing to do with it.

Ask yourself how are you taking detours to the goals you want to achieve in your life.

I am still struggling with this issue as well. I am trying to develop my coaching/lecturing / teaching abilities not just because I want this to be my mark on the world, but also to have the freedom to travel, work from anywhere, and experience more of the world.

But why am I not going for this now, today with my current life and occupation? I could be doing this right now already. Not by thinking that I need to develop everything to be able to do it, be completely ready, prepared, and “safe”. Because you never get there by waiting for conditions to be perfect. It will always be uncomfortable.

I still didn’t go past this. I want to share everything I learned with the world but that is not what will take me to my goal of being financially free and able to travel. It’s not that by doing this my business and financial breakthrough will happen. No, when I am free and able to travel then financial freedom will come.

We have a wrong way of looking at things ingrained in us. The other way round. It doesn’t work that by doing something we will achieve the other thing. No, we have to face and go for the things we want directly. Then when we ask ourselves why aren’t we doing what we want, there we face our deeper self, our doubts, fears, and insecurities. There is where we can mine for gold for our personal growth and self-improvement. Why aren’t we going for it right now? Why are we taking the reroute, the other way to get there?

I am exactly the same as we, still figuring out why am I doing this. What are my fears, doubts, beliefs and insecurities that keep me from going to what I want directly? They get me thinking that by achieving one goal, I will get the other thing that I really want. Unfortunately, I know from previous experiences, It doesn’t work that way. First, we are happy, then we because successful. It’s not by becoming successful that we find happiness.
Shawn Achor says it well in his book The Happiness Advantage:

“We become more successful when we are happier and more positive. Because positive brains have a biological advantage over brains that are neutral or negative.”

Do a little research of your own about what is really stopping you. I know I will. Let’s look the devil in the eye and see it for who he really is.

Fear. Hollow. Empty. Non-existent.

Hope you enjoyed this post.

All the best!


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