How to stay on top of your game

Last week, I wrote an article titled ‘When hard work beats talent’, where the main idea was that hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.

This means that the fact that you have talent only gives you an edge if you put in the work – so you’d better take advantage of your talent.

I’m making this conclusion for the sake of the talented people who wrote in to me after reading last week’s article. They felt discouraged that though they had talent, it seemed like they would never win the race.

If you’re keen on most talented people who are in the limelight, you’ll notice that they never get tired of working.

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Let’s take the stellar example of Eliud Kipchoge, who’s the current world record marathon holder. Many are praising him for breaking the 2-hour barrier in marathon running, but while everyone is lining up to deservedly commend him for a job well done, few are paying attention to the hurdles he’s had to jump to break that record.

A background check on his journey shows that so many times, he heard that he’d never break that barrier, his passion and talent for running notwithstanding. He failed a couple of times, but failure didn’t deter him from trying.

Last Saturday, we were on the road to Kapsabet – I’m currently in Eldoret for my annual Royalty Festival, which brings artistes together and provides a youth mentorship platform – when one of our guides gave us his version of the Kipchoge story.

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He narrated how he (Kipchoge) is always up early every morning to run 40 kilometres. I cringe just thinking of the hassle of running a mere four kilometres. 

I went home that night and pulled up every story I could find about Kipchoge in an attempt to learn from his failures.

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And I got more than I had bargained for. Kipchoge is talented, no doubt, but he’s definitely a hard worker. Beyond that, he’s really humble and has almost super-human levels of discipline.

So what does it really take to be on top of your game – and how do you stay on top once you get there?

We already know that the journey to the top is tough. I remember back when I was hustling in the city – my main worry was how I’d get my next meal and pay my rent and electricity bill.

I loved that stage of my life because the level of inspiration that came with the need to satisfy the basics was out of this world. I learnt quite a bit from this stage.

1. Share your plans only when they have materialised: Ever heard of the phrase, ‘Let your success speak for itself?’ I’m a victim and a beneficiary of the phrase.

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In the beginning, I was excited about every idea that I had, and ended up sharing my thoughts with everyone. That was until the day one of my close associates decided to source for funding and execute my idea to the very detail that I’d shared.

The particular idea he executed was the cream of all my plans.

I was really disappointed, so I approached my mentor, DJ Loop, who advised me to hold my cards close to my chest. And if I must share, I should only do it once I’ve put protective measures in place. 

2. Take time to learn: Visionary people tend to be daring by nature, and will easily pick up a new challenge and push ahead.

It’s an important skill, but I’ve learnt along the way that as much as you need to think around your next move or how to make your idea fruitful, you must learn the elements that make your idea perfect.

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Study every piece of the jigsaw.

In my 10 years in business, I’ve learnt how to produce and direct music videos, how to do presentations, how to write reports, how to file returns and much more.

What this means is that I know the tricks of the trade. And if anything new pops up, you’ll definitely find me learning about it.

3. The next disruption: To keep up with the wave, do your research. Research has never failed, and it’s an open field.

The beauty about it is that you remain a step ahead, and since you’re on top of the game, you have the licence to initiate a new pattern that the consumer will follow.

One major lesson I learned is that when you get to the top, take the market into new dimensions to benefit from the first-mover advantage.

The writer is an award-winning artiste and entrepreneur.

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