The Single Most Important Ingredient You Can Control to Become World-Class

If you observe the lives of people you admire for being world-class in their field—whether in sports, music, academics, politics, business, etc.—you’ll see that there are two ingredients that explain their success.

If you pay attention to what these people say about their own success, you’ll realize that the same two key ingredients come up over and over. They may use various words to describe these two key ingredients, but it boils down to these two things.

You won’t become world-class at everything you want to. However, you can become world-class at something. And these two ingredients can help your own journey to become world-class in your field.

Two Key Ingredients For Becoming World-Class

What are those two ingredients?

Talent and work.

When you examine the lives of people who are world-class, you see that those two ingredients are present in their journey: they have talent and they worked hard to become world-class.

Essentially, to become world-class, you must find an area where you have enough talent and then work your face off to maximize that talent. Then, you have a shot a becoming world-class. Thus, to become world-class, talent and work must be part of the mix.

If you work hard in an area where you’re not very talented, you may become good, even very good, but it’ll be very difficult for you to become world-class because you start at a disadvantage, in comparison with the others who also work hard but are also very talented.

If you’re very talented but are not prepared to work, you’ll be like the person who has a goldmine under their home but never benefits from it. Both talent and work are a must.

Rarely, you have people who have exceptional talent and that require less work than most people to be world-class. Mozart may very well have been one of these people. If that’s you, God bless you. But most world-class musicians, although talented, were not Mozart.

The Single Most Important Ingredient

Between talent and work, I’m sure you know which is controllable. You don’t control the amount of talent you were born with. However, you do control the amount of work you add to the equation. And that’s the most important element. Someone with less talent can get greater results than a more talented, simply because the less talented is putting in the work. Work can make up for a lot.

Work is the differentiator. You have raw talent but that raw talent must be amplified by hard work.

When you find an area where you’re talented and put in the work, you have shot a becoming world-class.

Without doing the work, you won’t become world-class. You must work—and work hard.

Let Passion Drive You

That’s where passion helps. When you work in an area that you’re passionate about, it doesn’t feel like work.

When I was a teenager, I was passionate about hockey. I could practice and play hockey “forever” and not get tired of it. Later, I picked up piano, and it was the same thing. That’s the power of passion. I’m sure you experienced the same thing in your areas of passion.

It’s not that passion removes the pain associated with doing the work. Passion makes you want to do the work, no matter what. Passion is a powerful driver; it drives you forward even in hard times.

Let A Coach Guide You

You were born with a measure of talent in multiple areas. You may not have discovered all your talents, but they’re there: in you. You may have to try different things to uncover them. But what will make the difference is: Will you do the work you must to perform at your best?

That’s where a good coach helps. All work isn’t equal, just as not all activity translates into productivity. There is such a thing as inefficient effort.

A good coach guides you so that you work efficiently. A good coach makes sure your efforts produce results. Instead of spinning your wheels trying to figure out how to maximize your talents, you make fast progress; a good coach accelerates your journey to mastery.

For the two passions I just mentioned (i.e. hockey and piano), that was certainly a missing piece: a good coach. I wasted too much time trying to learn everything on my own instead of leveraging the expertise and experience of a good coach.

To become world-class, you must go all in. You can’t work halfheartedly and expect to become world-class. You must give it your “All”. Every. Day. Practice. Practice. Practice. Work. Work. Work.