Talent + Systems = Exceptional Results

Talent without technique is merely a bad habit.
Pablo Picasso

Peter Urs Bender

While I was writing Leadership from Within I interviewed many outstanding leaders to discover what made them tick. These high achievers were from fields as varied as business, the arts, science, medicine, engineering and athletics, and they all functioned at the top leadership level.

I noticed that most of them appeared to be quite normal individuals - not greatly different from you or I. I don't think they were prodigies or geniuses, although all of them were pretty smart. I also discovered that although each and every one of them had some talent in the fields in which they worked, consciously or unconsciously, they all used that talent with a system.

This started me thinking about what a system can do for a person with talent. I looked at my own life. I realized I was forced to do many things simply because I had to. I had no talent to do many of the tasks I was expected to do, but simply did them because it was a matter of survival.

To keep up, I developed a system to cope. After doing this long enough, I woke up my inner talent. I guarantee you, there are talents still sleeping in you and me. But they will never be discovered unless we try to find them.
To wake them up is a three-part process.

First, we must try a task for which we feel we have no talent, and probably don't even want to attempt. Second, instead of just trying, we must seek advice from individuals who do the task well. Third and finally, we need to create a system to do the task according the advice we've been given. Then we have to perform the task for a while - even if we don't like it too much. (Otherwise we just say we can't do it, and give up.)

I use a quadrant system to illustrate this.

It demonstrates the results we can create through having talents - or inner skills - along with a system for using them (which may have been learned from others). Think about this as it may apply to your talent for speaking in front of a group for instance.

Lower left box
If you have no talent and no system, you will get no results.
Example: If you don't like speaking in public, you will find 101 excuses for not doing it. (Mine used to be, "English is not my mother tongue.")
Outcome: You will not present. You will also probably watch others who are not as smart as you get promoted into upper management.

Lower right box
You have no talent, but you have a system. You will get results.
Example: You hate to speak in public. But you did read Secrets of Power Presentations and follow the system. Everything will go okay. Outcome: A fairly good presentation. You personally feel it went lousy - but the audience thought you were great.

Upper left box
One has talent, but no system. (One is just born to be great…)
Example: This type of individual will probably be a tall person with a deep voice. He or she can present with no notes and very little or no preparation.
Outcome: Most the time the presentation goes well. But once in a while everything falls apart. Then blame for poor performance falls on the audience, the topic or even the weather!

Upper right box
This person has talent and learned a system. He or she will get outstanding results every time.
Example: Top pros in any field have coaches. They also read books to help them improve. This teaches them how to apply a system. They have the skills and the talent to outperform nearly everyone every time.
Outcome: 100% success rate. None, or very little, failure. (Nothing is ever really 100%!) This presenter may be envied - perhaps even hated by others. He or she will be seen as "a lucky devil." The fact is that top results come not only from a lot of hard work, but by combining talent with a system.

Most of us approach life from the talent side. If we like something, we do it and enjoy it. Finished. If we like a sport, we just do it, and we're pretty good at it. (If we're not good, we say we have no talent, and dump the activity.)

A system is simply a method or process for accomplishing a result. Systems have been developed for just about everything. There are systems for driving a car. Driving schools teach these. (Parents and spouses also try, but are not recommended tutors.) There are systems for getting from one city to another. They're called maps. There's a system to using a computer program. Cooking requires a system. That's why we need cookbooks. Your mother's recipes. The Food Network. Did you notice - the best cooks have the most cookbooks? If you find a restaurant that produces outstanding dinners, go into the kitchen. I guarantee you the cook will have talent - but will not cook by feeling alone. He or she will use recipes, even it's they're all stored in the mind!

How about ballroom dancing? Skydiving? Playing a musical instrument? Skiing? Knitting? Painting nudes? Speaking another language (even Swiss!)? Horseback riding? Accounting? All of them have systems, and all of them take time to discover.

Try it out. Discover your own hidden talents. You will find that for best results, talent and systems go hand-in-hand.


Peter Urs Bender is one of Canada’s most dynamic and entertaining business speakers. He lives and works out of Toronto. He is the author of four best-selling business books: Leadership from Within, Secrets of Power Presentations, Secrets of Power Marketing, Secrets of Face-to-Face Communication, and Gutfeeling.
To read excerpts from his books visit www.PeterUrsBender.com.