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A FEW days ago, I happened to catch an interview with Malaysian badminton legend, Datuk Misbun Sidek. It was a morning talk show on television and he was asked about how he coaches the players under him.

One particular statement caught my attention. He said, “From what I observed, those players with natural talent, they tend to be more complacent than others. Those with lesser talents, however, tend to work hard to claim their place. Whether you’re talented or not, you still need a lot of nurturing.”

It was a timely reminder of how we do take our talents for granted sometimes. Taking this into parenting context, each of our children is talented in some way or another. I call this talent their “natural ability”. But is it enough? Can we just rely on natural ability to reach for greater heights?

Not according to Datuk Misbun.


No doubt talents are very important when it comes to opening doors of opportunities. Living in a competitive world, a talented person can leverage on his/her skills to move ahead of their peers. Be it athletic or artistic talents, he/she can count on their blessing for being gifted.

But relying on talent alone is a fatal mistake. As the world gets smaller, more and more talented people are discovered. There’ll always be someone out there who’s faster, stronger, better and smarter. To go higher, we must nurture our talents further.


This is great news to those who are less talented. By virtue of hard work and proper training, anyone can master a new skill. There are many benefits to, including increased motivation, increased efficiency in doing the work, increased capacity to adapt to changes, and increased innovation mind-set.

Hard work gives us an advantage over others. It gives a competitive edge and a way to stand out above others. It’s also a great confidence-builder. It allows us to experience gratitude and understand that success doesn’t come easy. In return, self-improvement is attained.

Let’s pass these lessons to our children. Let’s observe if they’re relying too much on their talents alone. Be concerned if they do as it would only be a matter of time before they’re overtaken by someone younger and better.

It’s time we instil the nurturing culture. “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard,” said Tim Nolte, a famous basketball coach. Tell this to our kids: be careful with your talents lest they make you complacent. Hard work is king. By combining both, they’ll be unstoppable.

Zaid Mohamad coaches and trains parents to experience happier homes and more productive workplaces. Reach him at [email protected].

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