Enough about avocations. True talents, on the other hand, are those areas where you know that you are among the best in the area in which you are competing. Many people confuse true talent with academic talent. Performance in specific academic areas—while relevant—does not tell the whole story. A top chef told me that he was so bad in almost every subject that his teachers and guidance counselors had him convinced he had no talents. They didn't teach cooking, and now he is the celebrity cooking guru in his large Western town.
Many people have resigned themselves to failure in life because they did not excel academically. Let me tell you something from personal experience. I went to Harvard Law School, and I wouldn't let at least half of the people I met there get anywhere near my legal work. As Stephen Lambright of Anheuser-Busch put it, "some people are very, very smart intellectually, but they cannot walk across the street without being hit by a car." There are so many skills that are not taught in our schools—the creativity and common sense that lead to invention; the momentum-building skills that make an effective manager; the perspective that molds a corporate leader; the ability to assess risk that causes a business owner to succeed. You may have all those skills bubbling under a C-minus average. Do not use your experiences in school as the sole or even principal measure of your potential. Yes, you have to be smart to be invincible. No, you do not have to have an A-plus average in school.