Our local swim team’s coach has a saying: “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”
He’s telling the kids to make a choice to work hard to improve themselves rather than just assuming those Eastern Montana farm kids are going to swim faster by default. They still might not beat that incredibly talented swimmer, but they will swim better – and perhaps their very best – if they put in the effort to improve.
Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos has similar comments in his Princeton commencement speech. Have a listen. In particular, check out the 4.5 minute anecdote about his grandmother that starts at 6:29 into his talk.