“If you think you’re perfect already, then you never will be.” – Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo is considered by many to be one of the best soccer players in the world, if not the best, so was he born with a natural talent for the sport? Many commentators fixate on his “natural” talent and abilities, but Ronaldo himself knows that it takes more than talent alone to become the best you can be in whatever you choose to do in life.
“Talent without working hard is nothing.” – Cristiano Ronaldo
Ronaldo grew up in relative poverty on a small island off the coast of Portugal. His father worked as an equipment manager in a boy’s football club, so he was introduced to the game at a young age. His godfather has often said in interviews that all Ronaldo wanted to do as a boy was play football. He says, “He loved the game so much he’d miss meals or escape out of his bedroom window with a ball when he was supposed to be doing his homework.”
By the age of 10, his skills and abilities as a player had already been recognised, and at the age of just 16, he was signed to Manchester United for a record fee. He went on to win the Ballon d’Or five times and become the highest-paid soccer player in the world… so was it purely natural talent that got him there? No. Ronaldo’s rise to stardom and his remarkable career in football is down to his mental attitude every bit as much as his physical skill. He says, “I am not a perfectionist, but I like to feel that things are done well. More important than that, I feel an endless need to learn, to improve, to evolve, not only to please the coach and the fans, but also to feel satisfied with myself. It is my conviction that there are no limits to learning, and that it can never stop, no matter what our age.”
Ronaldo has a growth mindset. He believes that his talent and skills as a player are not fixed (or simply what he happens to have been born with) and that he can always grow and improve through continued practise, on-going learning, and dedicated effort.
“I’ve never tried to hide the fact that it is my intention to become the best.” – Cristiano Ronaldo
Coach Carlos Queiroz has said, “I have always spent time with players on free-kicks but with Ronaldo we worked for days and days. We practised every day. There’s nobody who’s prepared to work harder for his artistry… Ronaldo never quits. Not after two whole days with no success. That is what makes him a pleasure – I always say he motivates the coaches, not the other way around.”
What we can learn from Ronaldo is that there’s no such thing as “natural talent”. His talent on the pitch is a combination of dedicated physical practise and mental skill. He was just 16 when he was signed to Man United, but only a year earlier, he had been diagnosed with a heart condition that could have ended his career. He didn’t quit physically or mentally, and he kept on pushing himself to do whatever it was going to take to become the best player he could possibly be – and he’s still pushing today.
Do you have the growth mindset it takes to keep pushing?
Don MacNaughton is a High-Performance Coach, Mentor and Key Note Speaker.
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