Grit Not Talent (The story of Fabio Paim)

The questions that come to mind when we see these words are “What is Grit?”, “What is Talent?”, and “what’s the difference between the two?”.

Well, before we go into that, let me tell you a story. A story of Fabio Paim, the Wonder-Kid who was better than Cristiano Ronaldo during his time.

Paim was regarded as the talent of his generation. When Cristiano Ronaldo arrived at Manchester United in 2003, he had a quick message and spoke highly about the next generation of Portuguese talent coming through the ranks at Sporting Lisbon. “If you think I’m good, wait till you see Fabio Paim,” he told reporters upon arriving at Old Trafford. Joao Moutinho who also came in through the ranks at Sporting Lisbon also said he thought Paim was the shining diamond of the Lions youth academy who, at the time, was thought of more highly than Ronaldo.

But all these didn’t matter as talk is cheap and Paim, despite winning 42 international caps at youth level for Portugal’s Under 16’s through to the Under 21’s, faded completely into obscurity. Although Paim admitted he said “I knew what I was doing. I believed I had more talent than everyone else. Like everyone, I wanted to feel good, wear nice clothing, drive a nice car and behave with no humility. I stopped training and doing my work,” those were his words. “I started drinking. I had money and I started doing a lot of things I didn’t do before. The doors were open for me to do what I felt like.” At one point, I could do more than him [Ronaldo] but I did not have what he had, which is the strength and desire to be what I wanted to be,” he said.

“He had a great work ethic and I didn’t have that. I had the quality, at least as much as him, but I did not have the rest. I would have preferred to have less quality if I had more of the other part. I would have been one of the best in the world.

“But, no one is born perfect. I thought having talent was enough but it’s not.”

“I thought having talent was enough but it’s not” These words from Paim, hold a lot of pain and regrets in them. So what did Paim miss, what did he not have? All these lead us back to the questions from the beginning, and I think it’s high time we talked about what Grit and Talent truly are.

Grit is passion and perseverance for long-term and meaningful goals, says American psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth, It is the ability to persist in something you feel passionate about and persevere when you face obstacles.

Talent, on the other hand, is a natural ability to be good at something, especially without being taught. A talented person possesses flair, dexterity, and easiness in doing things. But this isn’t enough, you may have all these and still lack the focus and commitment to achieve the full potential of your talent. With talent comes responsibility, the saying goes thus “to whom much is given much is expected”, pressure sets in, the need to live up to expectation, the fame and attention, breaking and setting records. Not everyone can do well under pressure, however, we have some people who do even with “less” talent when compared to others, yet they excel and flourish day in day out defying expectations and waxing stronger.

So, to answer our question about Paim, what he lacked was Grit, if only he had a little bit of Grit, we may have been talking about him as one of the best players ever and I just may have had to look for another story for my example, just maybe, But Paim’s story is a classic example of what having grit and not just talent looks like.

Grit matters in all aspect of life. Talent doesn’t make you gritty, many talented individuals do not follow through on their commitment. A person with grit possesses 5 major characteristics; Courage, Exactitude, Perseverance, Resilience, Passion. Find these in you and you are guaranteed a successful life.

Adedokun Samuel Adeleke
Social Media Manager


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