Talent, Flair and Efficiency

By Simbo Olorunfemi June 28, 2020

Talent, Flair and Efficiency

Michael Jackson. I don’t know anyone as prodigiously talented as Michael Jackson yet with as much commitment to hard work as he had.

He was so dedicated to breaking the bounds of creativity and stretching the limitations to perfection that he put himself through such a punishing regime to be able to deliver flawless performance

Hours upon hours of practice and show-stopping rehearsal that could easily be mistaken for the performance itself. He invested as much energy in song writing as he did with the singing, performance of it, and the dance routine. He continuously challenged himself. Sadly, he probably didn’t know where to stop. Worked himself to death.

So much talent, ever ready to put in the shift in search of perfection.

Listening to Osaze Odemwingie the other day. Reflecting on his time in the Nigerian Football League, he said that not one day can he remember the team practising set-play before a match. Not once. I can guess that not much has changed, even now.

That should be apparent to see in our football. Either in offensive or defensive positions, one can easily notice that it does appear that our men are more inclined to leaving the outcome to chance than anything else. A culture already ingrained on account of years of foot-loose approach to the game.

Our greatest undoing must be our impatience with process and abhorrence for practice. Once we sense a bit of talent, we lose our heads. Whereas talent is only a gift which should inspire in one a greater responsibility to invest more effort to make something of it, we seem to fall for the assumption that talent should be enough.

It is the way we are with most things. Take our events, for instance. Many of them easily reflect who we are as a people. Timing is such an ordeal. It is as if it cannot be a part of our culture. Events drag on and on. Unavoidable and unpardonable slip-ups litter them, simply because we would not invest enough time in preparation.

A major national event the other day, the Master of Ceremonies called for a recitation of the second stanza of the National Anthem then he proceeds, to the embarrassment of everyone, to reciting the pledge before he was rescued. Mistakes happen, no doubt. But I have see so many Comperes show up so unprepared yet unwilling to seek help or receiving guidance, ending up mixing up names, mispronouncing names, shoddily introducing guests and all that.

In most cases, anything goes. Often, not for us is that ruthless efficiency that makes for that smooth flow of proceedings. It does appear that we struggle with having it all thoughtfully planned and laid out. The way we approach life is the same way we approach most other things.

Of course, even with the best of preparations, things go wrong and they often do. Even the most efficient and rehearsed teams do lose. But you reduce the odds when you invest more energy in practice irrespective of talent.

Christiano Ronaldo does not have half the talent of Ronaldinho, but he would appear to have achieved much more for himself than Ronaldinho, even with all intervening variables considered.

The real tragedy we are faced with in our Football, at the moment, is a dearth of talent. When talent is in such short supply and you are lacking in efficiency, effectiveness becomes a long shot away, with results likely to be more of chance than planning.

Faced with a dearth of talent, what we ought to do is to take advantage of what I see as our greatest weapon – the grit and raw determination of our people, often in defiance of the odds.
Unfortunately, we tend to lose that grit once we attain minimal comfort. Perhaps that is the reason why that fighting spirit is often seen in the struggling, home-based footballers than those who play abroad.

Short of talent in almost every position, our best bet is to dig in to harvest this grit and marry it with a bit of more efficiency. That was what Stephen Keshi brought to bear on the African Cup of Nations Cup winning team. That fighting spirit in the home-based players with a bit of tactical awareness from those abroad was what won us the tournament.

There is a place for flair and spontaneity, no doubt. But it must be used sparingly, not for it to be the default or dominant setting, especially when talent is in short supply. We can even put our ‘disorganisation’ which Mascherano diagnosed, to good use, if we are smart enough to turn that liability into an asset.

Talent can take one only so far. Time will come when one would have to put talent aside to get the hands dirty in even the most irrelevant of endeavour to enable one appropriate the blessing that comes with that talent, sometime in the future.

There is the place of talent and flair, but without efficiency, there is little chance of those, on their own, ensuring success.

There is a greater chance of attaining success through the instrumentality of efficiency, even with little or no talent.

Michael Jackson advises, “you could have all the talent in the world, but if you didn’t prepare and plan, it wouldn’t do any good.”

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