Famous Sayings: #26 — ‘Hard Work Beats Talent…’

September 4, 2016

Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.

hard work beats talent, hard work, naruto manga, famous sayings

This feature is going to be different. Instead of looking deep into the origin, I want to focus more on the meaning and application of this saying. And since Labor Day is tomorrow in the U.S., I wanted to find a quote that was dedicated to hard work.

To be quite honest, many have heard a quote like thing long before this quote gained traction (in sports circles). Where else did I hear it? I think the image at the top gives it away.

For now, let’s try to look at the usage and meaning of a quote attributed to Tim Notke.


Who Is Tim Notke?

Well, to be honest, there was nothing much to be found on Tim Notke other than this quote. From the various sources I consulted, all I could find was that Notke was a basketball coach. It seems that he may have said these words of wisdom to his players in order to motivate them.

There was no date given to the quote other than is usage by famous individuals. Two of these individuals were Kevin Durant and Tim Tebow.


When Did Tebow and Durant Use the Quote Attributed to Notke?

I found a quote project that came in the form of a presentation on Prezi. As part of the project, Tyrece Walker made a visualization of the quote from basketball coach Time Notke. Walker was inspired by Kevin Durant, who used the quote when he was drafted to the NBA in 2007. Durant also won the Naismith Award when he was a freshman at Texas University.

Kevin Durant was also named the Associated Press’s College Basketball Player of the year in 2007. He was the first freshman to be bestowed the honor and he received 70 out of 72 first-place votes.

That same year, Durant quoted this saying about hard work as he was drafted by the Seattle Supersonics (now the Oklahoma Thunder).

I miss Stuart Scott.

Durant reaffirmed that the quote from Notke was one of his favorites on Twitter.

On a Quora thread I found, a user by the name Lovepreet Singh talked about this quote. In addition to the information on Kevin Durant, the user also said that Tim Tebow lives by the quote from Notke.

Was that true?

Tim Tebow, hard work beats talent, Tim Notke, famous sayings

In short, yes. Tebow was quoted as saying his lives by the quote near the end of a 2010 piece I found on the Tampa Bay Times. Here’s an excerpt:

‘A quote that I’ve always lived by, that’s been at my door since I was 6 years old, is hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard,’ he said. ‘So every day, I’m trying to go out there and outwork everybody else. It doesn’t matter if you’re more talented and more blessed than me, I’m going to outwork you every day of the week.’

Now, Tebow said that he heard that when he was 6 years old. It is conceivable that the quote existed before he was born. He was born on August 14, 1987, so the quote attributed to Notke was likely made in the mid-1980’s at the latest.


Where Else Have I Heard that Phrase?

One word. Manga. Just about any story that deals with underdogs or shounen manga has this theme running through it.

Naruto in particular was kind of built upon it … or many fans of it will say that their love for the story was, at least.

In the image at the top, Lee beats Sasuke in a skirmish. However, Lee wanted to test himself against someone with eye talent because he could never beat his teammate Neji.

It only gets worse from there. After this display, Sasuke was able to copy the moves that Lee showed and display faster speed later in the Chuunic Exam Arc. And time after time, Kishimoto displayed that talent usually won out.

That put a cynical spin on everything.

In a manga like One-Punch Man, the main character, Saitama, plays with the overpowered character trope while supporting the hard work trope. Saitama is the strongest man in his world (and possibly across fictional universes) and he did it with only a strict exercise regimen.


So, What Does “Hard Work Beats Talent…” Mean?

I will let a few sources speak for me first.

From The Center for Sales Strategy website, Beth Sunshine gives 8 types to help (sales) managers get the most out of their salespeople’s talent. In short, she talked about how talented people still have to work hard to get the greatest results. But they may need to receive a nudge every now and then from their supervisors, or coaches.

Sunshine also quotes Tim Notke. Following is her message:

Talent can only get you so far. A person has to activate their talent in order to make anything big happen.  If they don’t, it’s as if they never even had the talent in the first place.

On Prezi, here is Walker’s interpretation:

The meaning of “Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard.” is that no matter how talent you are if you don’t work hard nothing will happen for you. Tim Notke had wrote but it was brought to light when Kevin Durant use it after being drafted. Time Notke was a high school coach and used this to inspire his team.

Furthermore, Walker made this presentation when he was a Conway High School. He included a story from when he was an 8th-grade football player. His team lost their first game. He was told that the team was talented but they lacked a certain work ethic.

That kind of reminds me of something one of my high-school teachers told me. He was a coach on one of the football teams (we have junior varsity and varsity squads) and he remarked how some other teams had a better post-game process. Our teams just moved on after each game, whether they won or lost; other teams would look back on what they did in the game and try to improve from there. Basically, our coaches lacked a certain work ethic.


Now, What Is My Interpretation of Notke’s Quote?

As Sunshine says, talent will only get you so far, but you have to cultivate it. And I believe everyone has a talent. They just need to find what it is and work on it.

Also, people who are talented in one area should beat others who are less talented, provided they both work hard. It sounds cynical, but it is true. Yet, there are many talented people who just rely on that talent alone, with mixed results.

That said hard work often does make up for weaknesses. You just need to know what your strengths and weaknesses are and go from there. Turn your weaknesses into strengths and you may go farther than you imagined.

Since tomorrow is Labor Day, I may have a post tomorrow to commemorate it. In any case, enjoy your day, especially if you have worked hard this year.


Works Cited

Associated Press. “Durant is first freshman named AP player of year.” ESPN.com 30 Mar 2007. Web. Retrieved 4 Sep 2016. <http://www.espn.com/mens-college-basketball/news/story?id=2818859>.

English, Antonya. “Former Florida star quarterback Tim Tebow drafted in first round by Denver Broncos” Tampa Bay Times.  22 April 2010. Web. Retrieved 4 Sep 2010. <http://www.tampabay.com/sports/football/bucs/former-florida-star-quarterback-tim-tebow-drafted-in-first-round-by-denver/1089686>.

Sunshine, Beth. “8 Things You Should Do To Turn Talent Into Performance.” The Center for Sales Strategy. 3 Mar 2014. Weblog. Retrieved 4 Sep 2016. <http://blog.thecenterforsalesstrategy.com/8-things-to-do-to-turn-talent-into-performance>.

Various Authors. “Who is Tim Notke?” Quora. Thread Started in 2014? Web. Retrieved 4 Sep 2016. <https://www.quora.com/Who-is-Tim-Notke>.

Walker, Tyrece. “Quote Project.” Prezi. 20 Dec 2013. Web. Retrieved 4 Sep 2016. <https://prezi.com/ondbo9p3kowm/quote-project/>.

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2 thoughts on “Famous Sayings: #26 — ‘Hard Work Beats Talent…’

    1. Could be, but I am the type of optimist who roots for the underdog. I like to believe that hard work leads to talent, although talent gives one an immediate advantage.

      Also, “Actions speak louder than words” is another good idiom to look into. Hmm … I might cover that one before November 8 if I don’t find something better.

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