In talent versus hard work, hard work only beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.
One day, I asked Mr Chike Onyia after our radio show at the Silverbird Galleria if he had ever wondered what it would have been like to be a celebrity with money and fame as a teenager. And he turned to me and said, “Eizu, I’m grateful I didn’t make it that early. With all that, I would have self destructed”.
Inline with self destruction and how we play the role and then blame the devil all the time, I’m inspired by a painting by Basquiat and by the side comes the words of Jay-Z , “most kings help get their own heads cuts off”. I’ve been thinking about this, so today, I decided to write about it.
Let me start by telling you a few stories of people with exceptional potentials and how strange things at times happen.
Let’s zero in. A few days ago while reading up random stuffs like sports, I stumbled upon the fact that the greatest basket ball player isn’t actually Michael Jordan, it’s supposed to be a guy called Earl Manigault. You may not have heard of him but Jordan respects him. He was a 6.1 ft player (quite short for NBA standards) but he was the most amazing with the ball. He had tremendously great talent. But talent is never enough. Growing up in Harlem, even though his school performances were below average and he lacked social skills, he made up for it when he discovered his ingenuity in basketball. He started off as the best player in his school till he got kicked out in final grade for smoking marijuana in the toilet. He got a second chance in life to a better school, but he rejected that top level school because in his words, he didn’t have the guts to be one of the first black kids playing basketball in an all white school.
Manigault, never made it out. Playing for a much local school with little or no chance of exposure, he had a coach that really didn’t like him. In one notable game, Manigault went against his coach’s instructions and scored 27 points, leading the team to victory, only to be reprimanded for not playing the way he’d been told. With the constant clashes with the coach, his playing time was limited and he ultimately quit just a few months into his studies, partly out of frustration and partly because his girlfriend in New York had become pregnant.
After dropping out of school and returning to New York, Manigault became a victim of addictions. He went from just weed into more alcohol and drugs, particularly heroin, which quickly became the focus of his life off the court. Heroin they say never leaves you, so he ended up in that cycle of spending every penny and even stealing just to get high. He started getting in and out of prison, he tried a few come backs with sports, he even started a few charity tournaments to get kids off the streets but he kept going back to the same streets for drugs. He died about the same time Michael Jordan was in his prime. History has it that Jordan had nothing on him. But who cares, talent is never enough!
He died in 1998, following two heart operations from his bad habits and then much later ultimately being rejected for a heart transplant due to his extremely poor health.
They say he was way better than Jordan or anyone else, but he died broke. He died in the city that knew him as a legend that fell too quick. On his Demise, the New York Times dedicated a piece on him, and called it “A Fallen King”. I was reading quote on Manigault from that article which summed up his life, “For every Michael Jordan, there’s an Earl Manigault. We can’t all make it. Somebody has to fall. Sadly, I chose to become that one.”
This story is very relative to that of another legend, this time in arts and also New York. His name is Jean Michel, and if you’ve ever listened to Rick Ross, Madonna or Jay-Z then you would have heard them brag of Basquiat paintings. He is Jean Michel Basquiat. His paintings are one of the most expensive ever (just after his death), but he died broke too from an overdose of Heroin, and other bad habits. Talent is never enough; discipline must follow it through to birth success and then greatness. Hard work only beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.
The truth is, no one skill or talent is ever enough. It takes total discipline and follow through. I’ve seen this locally in my neighbourhood. in the 90’s there used to be a Nigerian singer called Majek Fashek. But he’s been in and out rehabilitation. My father will say “Majek Fashek could have been greater than Bob Marley”. And I’ll say, “even Bob Marley could have been greater”. But one thing, not even talent is enough. It’s all the same thing. We see the same story, say an “intelligent” guy with all A’s and a First Class miserably working his life away as a front desk officer in one of Africa’s biggest banks owned by his class mate, Tony Elumelu, a third class graduate. So, who’s more intelligent?
You’re gifted and smart, so what?
You’re intelligent, says who?
True intelligence is in its tangible application. Sadly, it doesn’t come from talent or school. True intelligence isn’t grades or complements, but results from real life. It’s your life in order. It is your ability to succeed better. It should be certified by:
-The cognitive (I.Q and sound neuro linguistic-psychology)
– Spiritual Intelligence (S.I)- awareness of self, realms and Intuition to the right decisions
-F.I (Financial intelligence) – The breaking even into the mystery of capital through the application of common sense economics and management
– E.I (Emotional Intelligence)- how you relate to situations and people.
– The connections between your left brain (structure) and right brain (creativity).
Understanding this, will help you keep a good head screwed on that it may not be cut off.
Go further ahead.. Hexavia!
Written By Eizu Uwaoma,
Brand. Mgt Consulting. Training.
About Eizu Uwaoma
Eizu Uwaoma is the founder & lead strategist of Hexavia, a business, brand, training & management consulting firm. Through his weekly features nationwide on radio, he connects with more than 5 million professionals, personally interacting with over 500 top executives & has intervened in over 50 businesses. He has a proficient gift, skill and experience in enterprise development. He is an authority in brand, human capital and business training as well as project consultancy.
He runs the Decoded, a monthly hangout for professionals in all major Nigerian cities facilitates at the Hexavian Masterclass and is the founder of the Hexavian Business Club.