You’ve got some talent? You’ve had some success?
According to hockey star Evgeni Malkin, that’s not enough.
Malkin (known as “Geno” by his teammates and fans) plays for the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins. He won the legendary Stanley Cup with the Penguins in 2009 and was awarded the Most Valuable Player trophy for that year’s playoff season. All this in his early twenties. The man is just getting started.
Malkin missed half of the 2010-2011 season with a devastating knee injury. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, he has learned the value of training and improving. This article points out the benefits of the rigorous rehab process for Malkin, who needed to learn better ways to work out.
My brilliant wife Robin points out that legendary NHL player Gary Roberts also learned about conditioning and training only after a serious injury. Roberts was a fan favorite in Pittsburgh a few years ago for his ferocious and tenacious effort on the ice, so I have a hard time imagining him in the skinny-fat club. (OK, why are you all looking at me when I say the term “skinny’fat”?)
For musicians, artists, actors, and writers, there’s a great lesson here. Talent and success need to be combined with self-improvement. Getting better is a skill. You can relax on last year’s success, hoping that your audience will not notice that you’re treading water. Or you can relish last year’s success while working hard to do your best on your current creative work. Nothing takes the place of a serious work ethic.