From my most recent article at WorldMag.com:
Would Tom Brady be Tom Brady without coach Bill Belichick? Would he be the greatest quarterback of a generation, or maybe ever, and have won four Super Bowls? Not likely. Of course, Belichick would not be heading a dynasty in New England if he and Brady hadn’t teamed up either.
The same is true for every great team in history. Michael Jordan needed Scottie Pippen in Chicago, and they both needed coach Phil Jackson. That New York Yankees dynasty of the late ’90s and early aughts was far more than Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter. San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich is just another good NBA coach without Tim Duncan falling in his lap in 1997, and Duncan might have been Karl Malone without Pop. Tiger Woods was taught golf as a toddler. Venus and Serena Williams’ parents moved them out of Compton so they could get elite coaching.
There are no self-made superstars, only talented people given unique opportunities and running with them. Yet we most often credit the individual’s effort for success.
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It’s simpler to formulate a success recipe that says hard work equals big gains. It’s neater to assume that the most talented will rise to the top. It gives us a basic structure for climbing the ladder, knowing the next steps, and finding our ceiling. We like a tidy merit-based system that says people earn all they have.
No doubt it takes talent and sweat to rise to the top, but it’s foolish and disingenuous to assume that those at the top got there by themselves and those who didn’t lack work ethic or ability. What gets people to the top is talent, hard work, and opportunities—the kind of opportunities only God can orchestrate. If you are honest about your life, every success you ever had came from an opportunity you didn’t create. You may have pursued it. You may have looked for it. But God provided it just like He provided the talent and ability to do something with it.
The measure of success is what you do with the opportunities you’re given—stewardship. To some much will be given, and they ought to do great things. Others will toil just as hard and be given little, but both can be equally great stewards.
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