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There’s a story of a famous violinist who was met by a fan after a concert.

“I would give my life to be a great violinist like you,” she exclaimed excitedly.

“I did!” responded the violinist.

The great artist, Michelangelo once said, “If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful after all.”

True mastery is rare.

It takes massive commitment.

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Every now and then, we meet or hear about people who are extraordinarily talented.

They may be extra smart, ultra athletic, ridiculously good-looking or even worse, all three.

Life seems to come easily to them and it can be tempting to look at them and assume that they will get all of the good things in life and leave the scraps the rest of us little battlers.

Alternatively, you may be one of the talented few and life was going smoothly, until one day you looked around and noticed that less naturally capable people were passing you by.

But it doesn’t have to be like that.

Talent doesn’t always win and here are four attributes that always beat talent:

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The bar never stays the same.

We don’t stay at the same level for long.

The standards that we set for ourselves are either more challenging, or we are more likely to make excuses for ourselves.

We are either improving or regressing.

We are either becoming more positive or more negative.

Our network and level of influence is either increasing or decreasing.

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In his book, “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari” Robin Sharma tells the story of Peter and the Golden Thread.

Peter was a young boy who could never live in the moment.

When he was in school, he dreamed of being outside playing.

When he was outside playing, he dreamed of his summer vacation.

Peter constantly daydreamed, never taking the time to savour the special moments that filled his days.

One morning, Peter was out walking in a forest near his home.  Feeling tired, he decided to rest on a patch of grass and eventually dozed off.

After only a few minutes of deep sleep, he heard someone calling his name.

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Anyone who knows me well, will tell you that I am very proud of my children.

Before I had kids, I always said that I wouldn’t be one of those parents who prattled on about his kids, but alas, that’s what I’ve become and my three awesome children, Hayden, Madison and Logan are my favourite conversation topic.

I love them each unconditionally, but there are some moments that stand out more than others.

This week, my oldest son, 8 year-old Hayden had an extraordinary game of soccer.

He’s a reasonable soccer player, but is certainly not as technically proficient or natural at the sport as some other children.  He has scored a hat-trick in the past, but in this particular game everything seemed to go right for him and he ended up scoring 9 goals!

It was one of those games and you couldn’t wipe the smile off his face afterwards.

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I met a great family last week.

I was assisting the middle-aged father and teen-aged daughter of the family with their career aspirations and it was a pleasure helping them.

Then there was the mum.

She was a great lady who organised the appointments and was constantly encouraging her loved ones with statements like:

“You can do it.”

“You’re very good at that.”

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A component of the myth of vampires is that they can’t come into someone’s home without first being invited.

They stand there and knock, they’ll ask to enter, but they won’t come in unless someone gives them permission.

And so, they can’t hurt you.

This is the same for our negative thoughts.

They want to enter our minds and hold us back from maximising our potential and living with joy.

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I love reading and endorse the practice of reading on a daily basis to develop, grow and maximise our potential.

I love praying and highly value the daily ritual of taking the time to relate to God.

I love great discussions with smart people, wrestling with challenging issues and being stimulated mentally.

But there comes a time when we need to act.

We need to take everything that we’ve read, prayed and talked about and do something.

It takes discipline to read, pray and have intelligent discussions regularly.

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A frustrated young man went to see the wise man in his village.

“I don’t know what to do with my life.  How do I find my purpose?” the young man asked.

“Follow me,” said the old man.

Silently, they trudged together to a far away river where they found dozens of prospectors panning for gold.

“There are three types of prospectors here,” the sage said.

“What do you mean?” the young man inquired.

“There are those who strike gold straight away.  Excited, they take their plunder, cash it in and live comfortably for the rest of their lives.  Then there are those who pan for years.  They know that there is gold here and they have seen others strike it rich, so they persist until they too find the gold that they’ve been searching for.”

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One of my favourite stories from the Bible when I was growing up was the story of Noah’s Ark.

I suspect that as a young animal lover, I was fascinated by the thought of sharing a boat with two of every kind.  As a child, that was a fascinating concept.

In this story, found in the book of Genesis, Noah was told by God to build the ark because He was going to destroy the world through a massive flood.  So he gathered two of every kind of animal and put them on the ark to replenish the world after the flood waters had subsided.

As I was contemplating this story again recently, an important principle struck me.

Noah heard the message, had a plan and started building before a cloud appeared in the sky.

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