The Maths Of Becoming A Talent-Plus Person

Dec 05, 2014 1 Min Read


Discover the keys to success

Although John C. Maxwell believes in the importance of talent, he also believes that talent is never enough.

Maxwell quotes Peter Drucker, the father of modern management, who said:

“There seems to be little correlation between a man’s effectiveness and his intelligence, his imagination, or his knowledge.… Intelligence, imagination, and knowledge are essential resources, but only effectiveness converts them into results.”

Maxwell helps to put talent into perspective by emphasising that it is not to be minimised. We should still be amazed at people’s giftedness which enables them to accomplish extraordinary things and contribute much to the development of society.

We must also, however, learn to separate what people can do from who they are. Oftentimes, a person’s talent is greater than the person and it overshadows other important attributes like character and commitment.

Although talent gets you ahead of others, it is only a starting point. A lot of hard work is still needed to develop the talent; else your success will be short-lived.

Maxwell believes that we should aim to develop the talents we have, not those we desire to have. Drucker believes that it is the choices we make, apart from our natural talents, that set us apart from those who depend on talent alone.

In his book, Talent is Never Enough, Maxwell shares 13 key choices to maximise our talent and become a “talent-plus” person. He says:

“If you have talent, you stand alone. If you have talent plus, you stand out.”

Here are two of the key choices:

No.1: Belief lifts your talent

Believe and trust in yourself. Don’t set self-imposed limitations on yourself and your abilities.

When you do, you are unable to unlock the power and potential that is in you. Having talent in itself is never enough; you need to believe in your best.

Often, we fall short of our true potential because we either don’t see it or are unable to seize it.

Maxwell quotes industrialist Charles Schwab:

“When a man has put a limit on what he will do, he has put a limit on what he can do.”

So, don’t live a life of tragedy by never reaching your real potential. Instead, be determined to live beyond average.

Believing in our mission is the next important thing to lift our talent. When we believe in what we seek out to accomplish, it empowers and encourages us.

The more we believe in our potential, in ourselves and in the mission set before us, the more we will be able to achieve.

Maxwell emphasises that our mission must include people because only a life lived for others is worthwhile.

Talent + Belief = A Talent-plus Person

How does one become a talent-plus person?

Maxwell believes in three steps in putting the talent-plus formula into action:

  1. Belief determines expectations
    If talent is to be lifted to its highest level, don’t start by focusing on your talent. Instead, begin by harnessing the power of your mind by having a positive belief system.
  2. Expectations determine actions
    Maxwell says that we cannot live in a way that is inconsistent with our expectation of ourselves. According to a linguist, the word “belief” is the same as the word “do” in 20 of the world’s most primitive languages. In other words, we should end up doing what we believe in, hence our actions.
  3. Actions determine results
    We all know that results come from actions. Having hope in itself is not a strategy; we need to act.

No.2: Passion energises your talent

Passion is the fuel that makes people take risks, go the extra mile and do whatever it takes to achieve their goals.

For such people, it doesn’t matter how many times they fail or fall; they just keep going until they succeed. These are talent-plus people.

Rueben Martinez was one such person. Growing up in Miami in the 1940s and 1950s with parents who worked in the mines, there wasn’t much to do.
But soon, he found his passion in books, though it was a difficult passion to pursue in a small town that did not even have a public library and with parents who were not readers.
Finally, at 17, Martinez moved to Los Angeles and was attracted to the idea of attending a barber college.
Martinez then opened his own barbershop in the 1970s but never lost his passion for reading. He really wanted to pass the passion on to others, especially to young people.
Martinez started out by lending volumes from his own 200-book collection to customers who were waiting for a haircut. However, he realised he was losing books because his customers often forgot to return them.
So, in 1993, Martinez decided to start selling books. After a few years, his barbershop with books became a bookshop.

That is what passion does! A passionate person, even with limited talent, will outperform a passive person who possesses greater talent, because the former acts with enthusiasm and knows no bounds.

Passion is really the first step towards achievement. Having passion also increases our willpower.

In his role as a motivational teacher, Maxwell helps others discover their passion by asking three questions:

  • What do you sing about?
  • What do you cry about?
  • What do you dream about?

The answers to these questions helps a person discover his/her true passion.

The first two questions leads you to discover what touches you at the core, and the third helps you discover things that will give you fulfilment for tomorrow.

Talent + Passion = A Talent-plus Person

Besides prioritising, we all need to protect our passion. To keep a fire burning, we need to feed and protect it. Hang out with firelighters, people who help keep your fire burning. Have less to do with firefighters, those who pour cold water on your fire of passion.

In summary

Life is really a matter of choices. Our destiny is not by chance. Rather, it is determined by the choices we make.

So, it is the talent-plus person who aims to maximise his/her talent, reach for his/her potential and seeks to fulfil his/her destiny in life.

Talent + Right Choices = A Talent-plus Person

Koh Earn Soo and his team take the best books and summarise them into shorter, readable content in the hope of inspiring people to read and learn more. For the rest of this summary and summaries of other bestsellers, subscribe to For more Learn from Books articles, go to


Published in English daily The Star, Malaysia, 6 December 2014

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This article is published by the editors of with the consent of the guest author. 

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