Talent Isn’t the Most Important Thing

By July 19, 2015 2 Comments

Soichiro Honda grew up working in his father’s bicycle shop.

Even at a very young age he showed a tremendous aptitude for engineering and mechanics.  When he grew older, he began working for a well-known automotive shop, repairing cars and working on engines.  

When he had the time, he exercised his real passion—inventing.  Eventually, he had his own shop and began to experiment with the manufacturing of piston rings—a crucial internal engine part.

But he dealt with some setbacks.

His investors didn’t understand why he wanted to make piston rings… he was successful as a mechanic and they encouraged him to stick to fixing cars.

But Honda would not be discouraged.  He found other investors, and started a different company to build the engine parts.

Unfortunately, his first efforts were failures.

While he had great mechanical instincts, he didn’t quite have the scientific know-how to conquer the world of metallurgy.  Honda, now as an established businessman, found himself enrolled in college classes studying feverishly, trying to keep his dream afloat.

Honda secured a contract to sell his piston rings to Toyota, but unfortunately, of the 50 rings he sent to be quality checked, Toyota rejected 47.

Honda would not be deterred.  He continued learning, and he kept improving his product.  Eventually his company began to have some success, and built multiple manufacturing plants.

Then, World War II interrupted his plans.  The Japanese ministry of munitions took control of his business, and significantly reduced his role within the company.  As Japan built its military force, Honda lost his manufacturing staff.  Soon, Honda found himself training a completely new group of employees, mostly ladies, who were quite capable, but very inexperienced.

After overcoming all of these obstacles, one might think that Honda would catch a break. But he didn’t.  At the end of the war, as Japan was experiencing very heavy arial attack, one of Honda’s factories was demolished by bombs.

Adding insult to injury, just a short while later an earthquake decimated one of his other major manufacturing facilities.

But here’s the amazing thing: Soichiro Honda still wasn’t ready to give up.

In 1946 he was staring at a small surplus military engine that had been used to power a field radio, and he had a brilliant idea.

He imagined that if he could successfully couple a small engine like this one to the drive mechanism of a bicycle, he could create an affordable and reliable motorcycle.  He knew it could be huge.  This type of transportation could be a game-changer for the entire country.

It worked.  Certainly, there were other challenges along the way, but Honda’s tenacity and unwillingness to quit led him to that all-important breakthrough moment that foreshadowed the birth of the Honda company that we all know and respect.

It turns out that tenacity is more important than talent when you want to accomplish something big in life.

Talent is important, but lots of talented people never see their dreams come to fruition.  Often people with amazing skills and abilities try to accomplish something big, and when they fail the first time, they simply quit trying.  What a shame.   Imagine the loss if Soichiro Honda had handled failure that way.

Did you know that 80% of first-time business startups will fail?  That’s kind of a daunting statistic.

Researchers Francine Lafontaine and Kathryn Shaw wanted to find out if trying again after failing made any difference.  They found that with every new try the rate of success improved.

In essence, each time a failed businessman or woman was willing to move past their failure and disappointment and try again, they had a better chance of seeing their dreams come true.

Here’s the kicker… in their research group, only 25% of the business owners they studied had been willing to try again.  Think about what this means.  So much potential success is left on the table each year by people who could get past the shadows of their failure if they’d only keep trying.  But they quit, and they miss out on what could be.

This blog is a good example of what I’m talking about.  While Lifeinacrazyworld.com is fortunately having a strong degree of success now, you should know it’s actually my third blog attempt.

And speaking of failure, take my current monthly blog readership, divide it by fifty, and you will still have more readers than my first blog ever aspired to have.  And it wasn’t easy trying again after having such a difficult time before… but I can vouch for the fact that being stubborn about your goals pays off in the end.

You know where I’m going with this.  Don’t quit.  If you’ve experienced failure, welcome to the club.  We all have.

Don’t be tempted to think that just because something isn’t working today you don’t have talent or are ill-equipped to succeed.  You have much more to offer than you probably think.  Hang in there, and go the distance.  Tenacity is more important than talent.

Galatians 6:9 (NIV)
9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

profilepic Hi, my name is Jonathan Hoover and I have the privilege of serving NewSpring Church as Associate Pastor and Couples pastor.  One of my greatest passions in life is coaching struggling married couples, which led me in 2013 to release my first book “The Blindfolded Marriage.”  Here, at lifeinacrazyworld.com I blog about relationships, life challenges, and personal growth.  I’m glad you’ve come to visit my site.  If you liked what you read here, sign up to receive blog posts via email here.

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The Blindfolded Marriage will help you understand the root issues that create difficulty and conflict in your marriage. Full of practical insight you can start using right away, Jonathan's book will both equip and inspire you to take your relationship to the next level.

Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott | Authors of The Good Fight

This book will give you clarity in marriage that will be an impetus and help drive the desire to be healthier as husband and wife. ...Read this book, I promise you will recommend it to your friends.

Johnny M. Hunt | Former President, Southern Baptist Convention Pastor, First Baptist Church Woodstock, GA

Jonathan's insights into marital breakdowns and marital repair are both profound AND easily understood. To take such difficult issues and put them into accessible stories and metaphors that speak to both genders makes this book a rarity among marriage books. Whether your marriage is good and you want to make it better, or if it feels like the wheels came off about 5 miles ago, this book will help everyone along that spectrum.

Anita Renfroe | Speaker, Author

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  • Jennie Lathrop says:

    LOVE this piece! Although my Mary Kay business isn’t as critical as Honda’s , this has challenged me to keep pursuing growing it bigger and stronger in spite the many set backs I’ve encountered since moving to the Wichita area.

    Thanks Jonathan!

Get my book, "Fight-Proof Your Marriage," right now for FREE!

If you are looking for real-life and grounded help for navigating the inevitable conflicts we all have in marriage, don’t miss out on the message of this book by Jonathan Hoover. It’s vulnerable, poignant and practical. Do yourself – and your relationship – a favor and read this book!

Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott Authors of Saving Your Marriage Before it Starts