Approach over Talent

Why your approach can often give you the results that talent alone can’t

Photo by Adi Goldstein on Unsplash

We’re a talent-based society. We shower the most talented people with praise and admiration. We focus on how high people can jump, how fast they can run, and how smart they are. And as a result, we follow them on whatever social media accounts we can.

We take this view with us from school to varsity to the workplace. We admire those with the best abilities. They are often the ones with the most technical prowess. Early on, they have the most success. We start to think that our success depends solely on how proficient we are. Talent is not the dominant ingredient in the success of a team. Complex, stressful, and involving work teaches us this lesson.

The following factors are more important:

  1. The way we approach our work
  2. The way we approach our day
  3. How we work

These factors help us have the best impact on our team. Even if we have talent, we exert ourselves a lot less if we find the right approach. Thus, we experience less stress.

Improving our approach to work helps us see our goals more clearly. Having a clear understanding of our goals and being able to prioritize them is invaluable. A clear understanding of the outcome we want helps us spend our energy more efficiently. At times, this means that we start to focus less on the development of our abilities.

We can understand that our efforts are at times better spent on delegating. It could be better spent on nurturing our relationships or making new ones. Often, our efforts are better spent helping others grow. For me, it was my transition from “trying to be a better programmer” to “having a positive impact on the team.” Trying to be a better programmer gave me an abstract goal with a few ways to make progress. Trying to have a positive impact on the team gave me specific and relevant goals I could reach. Many of those required little effort and cost me nothing but time. When you focus on the right outcome or feeling related to an experience, the things you can do multiply. Your approach improves.

It would be silly to say that self-improvement is unnecessary. But when we focus on improving our approach, we widen our options. It’s what helped me go from trying to be a better software engineer. A better professional. A better team member. A better human.

A note on my personal experience

My own experience as a software engineer helped me make a transition. I went from trying to learn more programming languages to trying to be impactful. I made small adjustments that would let me have a positive impact on my team.

I worked on making sure I made more realistic commitments. I created more realistic expectations of what I could do. I proactively managed the way I spent my time. As a result, the quality of my work improved. I now had time to think beyond the first solution that came to mind. I also felt less stressed. Consequently, I had more mental energy to spend on finding better solutions.

I tried to be a positive force in the lives of my teammates. I offered them a listening ear whenever they needed me. As a result, I contributed to a positive atmosphere in the team. The result? I was able to watch some amazing people grow.

When I focused on the outcome I wanted, I found small, simple things that I believe made a real difference at the right time.

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Limichilwe Simwanza

Limichilwe Simwanza

Developer. Dabbler in design, writing, and all things creative.