Michelangelo's David

The Prodigy Scapegoat


“If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all” Michelangelo

When I read a quote that inspires me to press on or challenges my thinking, I write it down. (If you follow me on

Michelangelo's David
Michelangelo’s David

Twitter you’ve seen a lot of quotes from my collection.) I’ve pondered the above quote regularly because it perfectly summarizes a prevailing mentality I see in people.  We are quick to discount the hard work of high achievers and label them as ‘natural talents’, ‘prodigies’ or ‘genius’.  It’s almost as if we give ourselves an excuse to not achieve greatness because we weren’t born with the particular talent. Don’t fall into that poor thinking habit – the prodigy scapegoat!

Yes, there are prodigies in the world. I do remember the very young Tiger Woods on the Mike Douglas Show. He is a prodigy, but I doubt he would have achieved greatness in golf if he didn’t have determination and a strong work ethic.

If you are admiring someone, get into the habit of considering their hard work and determination; then understand this is what you need for the path you are on. Don’t settle for less than great for yourself or your team.

“All the genius I have is solely the fruit of labor” Alexander Hamilton