Can You Coast on Natural Talent Alone?

As a motivational speaker, I think a lot about drive and ambition – setting goals and reaching them – perfecting your art and your craft. While I believe that there exists in all of us a raw talent at something – it is when we combine this talent with the proper training, practice, and dedication to learning the art that we truly fly. I see in our society a desire to skip the “learning” stage and the “paying your dues” stage. And I just don’t think that you can truly become a phenomenal basketball player by coasting on talent alone – that at some point you need training, coaching, and practice. The young singers on American Idol who are told they have talent but aren’t ready – are told that because they are still coasting on talent alone – and that’s not enough. Show me any art, any skill, any sport – and I will challenge you to tell me that talent alone is enough. So take the time to cultivate your art, practice your gifts, learn the rules before you break them, learn proper grammar before you start writing your own way, study before you perform. Or you may find that as talented as you seem now – you will be left behind – surpassed by the others with raw talent who put the work into it and blew you away. If you want to be heard above the noise, you’d better create something worth hearing.


Motivational Speaker Kelly Swanson - called one of North Carolina's funniest women by Our State Magazine. Kelly lifts the spirits of audiences from coast-to-coast using humor, storytelling, and lives of the characters from Prides Hollow - Kelly's make believe small town. This unique approach to motivational speaking allows Kelly to break through communications barriers and connect directly to the audience's imagination.
Her powerful stories and wacky wit will make you laugh, remind you that you matter, show you how to see beyond your obstacles, and teach you how to stand up and stick out in a crowded market.
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  1. Yes, Kelly! Yes! And I can’t even BEGIN to tell you how many wannabe motivational speakers call me on the phone and say, “I want to be a motivational speaker. How do I do that? I did a speech for my Kiwanis group and they said I was a natural.”  And I’m serious, they expect I will give them 5 easy steps and they’ll be OFF! Making piles of money.  I try to tell them that being a “natural” is a GREAT thing – and could be the WORST thing ever.  Great if they use it as a jumping off place to get REALLY GREAT – and WORST if they think they can just wing it.  Very good observations, Missy.

    • Linda, we get a slew of those calls also. Kelly usually gives them a list of things to do if they seriously want to become motivational speakers. Real basic things like “give 100 free, or low cost, speeches”. Kelly tells them to call her back when they’ve completed the list and she will be happy to help them. I can’t count the number of nursing homes, storytelling festivals, birthday parties, Rotary Clubs, etc… Kelly did for free or next to nothing. We’ve have lots of funny war stories from these early days in Kelly’s career. Until you’ve cut your teeth on these kinds of gigs, you’re not worth “piles of money”. So far, I don’t think one person, out of the dozens who have called, have completed Kelly’s list and gotten back to her. What kind of motivational speaker can’t be troubled to put in their dues? Not so motivating.

  2. So right on, Kelly!  I’ve done my share of freebies and almost freebies over the years as a motivational speaker, and I can STILL say that more coaching and practicing will do me well.  If you really want to be the best at your craft you HAVE to put in the extra time if you want to stand out.

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