The names in this BLOG have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.
I met a guy named Peter Jackson thirty years ago. He and I went to different colleges in North Carolina, two hours apart. Back then, Pete, was the lead singer of a college rock band. He was good looking – had that wonderful southern charm – was smart as they come – AND he had the vocal chords and singing lungs as good as Bono (seriously, the guy had pipes)! Pete was not only a rock star but also an all-American kid. Way beyond talented.
Pete and I reconnected ten years later when we both moved to Colorado. We instantly became the best of friends. We bought motorcycles together. We had the deepest and most meaningful conversations (often all night). We got a job at the same company. We were inseparable.
I’ve never met a man with more talent. Pete was one of the smartest businessmen I’d ever met. (His father was an early investor in what became a prominent national hotel chain). Pete could out-think anyone. He could ski better than anyone on the mountain. He could write music and lyrics better than anything on the radio. He could have an intellectual conversation about anything and everything with anyone. Every day I learned a new talent that Pete possessed.
I knew another kid when I was young. His name was Timmy Wilson. He was half as talented as Pete. No, scratch that, he was a tenth as talented as Pete. Timmy had terrible grades in high school and college – barely graduated. Timmy’s parents not only didn’t start a national hotel chain, but they didn’t have the money to even stay at a fancy hotel. Timmy was not academically gifted. Not athletically gifted. Not artistically gifted. The only gift that Timmy possessed was that he could out-work anyone. He was the most tenacious person I’d ever met. When Timmy put his mind to something – nobody – I mean nobody, could stop him.
Pete and Timmy. Two people I respect. They both became great husbands. Both became loving fathers. Both tremendous human beings. But both had very different career paths.
Who do you think led a more meaningful career? Made an impact on thousands of lives? Overcame extraordinary obstacles? Built companies? Created jobs? Started non-profit charities? Changed the world? Pete or Timmy?
I won’t tell you the answer to that question. The answer is not important. But how you answered the question is telling. Because it demonstrates the value you put on talent vs. tenacity.
All of us hire people with the most impressive resumes, highest of grades and lists of talent. We often, though, overlook the importance of tenacity. And we have all paid a price because of it.
In my career, I’ve hired hundreds of people. Hands down, I would hire tenacity over talent any day of the week – twice on Sundays.
We’ve all heard the infamous question – are leaders born or made? I believe leaders are made. I believe talent can be taught. But tenacity – that comes from deep inside each of us. It’s hard to teach tenacity. Hard to teach someone to have the heart, the drive, the will, the grit, the work ethic, the determination, the guts and the tenacity to succeed.
So, the next time you are hiring someone, don’t only measure them by their resume. A resume is a list of talents – a mere list of accomplishments and qualifications. Rather, get to know the person behind that piece of paper. Find out if they have a tenacious heart. Because nothing can stop a tenacious heart from finding success. Even if they can’t sing like Bono!