Sam Radford

June 1, 2021

‘It takes me forever to get it to look so easy’

When we look at others who are extremely good at something, we assume it’s all natural talent. And, thus, unfair. Why do they get all the talent?

We all probably have particular people who we’re especially jealous of.

Me? It’s Lin-Manuel Miranda. He seemed to get far to big a piece of the talent pie!

I was reminded of this discovering this reflection from Maya Angelou about her writing:

I try to pull the language into such a sharpness that it jumps off the page. It must look easy, but it takes me forever to get it to look so easy. Of course, there are those critics — New York critics as a rule — who say, Well, Maya Angelou has a new book out and of course it’s good but then she’s a natural writer. Those are the ones I want to grab by the throat and wrestle to the floor because it takes me forever to get it to sing. I work at the language." 

‘It takes me forever to get it to look so easy.’

When we look at other people, we see the end result – not the process.

We focus on the wrong thing. It’s not that talent isn’t relevant. It is. But it’s not the whole picture. To borrow from the title of one of John Maxwell’s books, talent is never enough.

Maya Angelou comes across as a natural with her writing because of the unseen hours labouring over her words. I ignore the hours and hours Lin-Manuel Miranda spends wrestling his lyrics into shape, making the music sing. It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that Hamilton wasn’t far off a decade in the making. 

The point is that success doesn’t come easy. Don’t judge people by the outcome of their work; look at their process. And you soon discover a common thread to successful people’s processes: hard work.

–Sam

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@samradford | samradford.com