10 Things That Require Zero Talent

Original post July 2019:
I’ve seen the meme/inspirational image below (or similar) posted many times. I’ve also been flabbergasted when folks at a professional level are not able to deliver on many of these. Now, no one is perfect. I have been late. Many times preventable, sometimes not. For some of the other items, e.g. body language and being coachable, these are learned over years of experience. In this post I share my personal $.02 (insert disclaimer) breakdown of how I think folks can achieve each of the “10 Things” below.

Image of 10 Things That Require Zero Talent written on whiteboard
10 Things That Require Zero Talent
  1. Being on Time: Leave earlier than you think you need to. This helps create a cushion for unknowns like road work, accidents or if you forget something and have to go back and get it. Starting meetings on time also helps get people out of meetings on time.
  2. Work Ethic: No one can run at 100% everyday. However, if an organization is providing you a paycheck that helps keep a roof over your head and food on the table, you should probably earn it each day.
  3. Effort: Doing a good job doesn’t really require that much effort. How hard is it to make the phone call, send the message or email to get clarity on an issue? It’s not. Take the extra 5 minutes to get the clarity, build the relationship and help the team succeed.
  4. Energy: Tired? Go to bed earlier. I say this as someone who loves to stay up late. When I’m tired it’s my fault. Solution? Sleep. Also be the one who brings positive energy into the room, not the “negative Nelly” that throws shade on everyone else with their negative energy. Also consider starting a regular exercise routine. You’ll be more tired at night and bonus…be healthier.
  5. Body Language: Slumping, looking at your phone and eye rolling are not appreciated by anyone while they’re talking to you or presenting in a meeting. There are many resources sharing what body language means and how to project positive, openness to others. Some nice write ups from Inc.com and VeryWellMind.com. Hint: Openness and friendliness is not shown by crossed arms or standing like Superman with hands on hips presenting your power as you close talk someone. Study up and adjust. It makes a world of difference as both the encoder (sender) and decoder (receiver).
  6. Passion: In my two major skill sets, all-hazards incident management and project management, I have to have some level of passion when helping teams I have no direct control or authority over succeed without wasting money, time or blasting the scope to bits. The passion is in the people and the process. Learning about others, how they do their job and how we can all help each other succeed in a variety of projects, special events or incident response. If you are not passionate about what you do, consider not doing it anymore.
  7. Doing Extra: Extra is easy. Formatting an email in a table so it presents a more easily read message takes an additional 5 seconds. Consider how you can put the finishing touch on every task you undertake.
  8. Being Prepared: Don’t show up with “I don’t know” if your position requires you to know before a scheduled meeting you are going to present at. Most, if not always this is preventable. It looks bad for you, your supervisor and your team. Get the background and be able to provide the “bottom line up front” or the famous “elevator speech” on your assigned project or special event assignment.
  9. Being Coachable: I’ve let my ego get in my own way before. At one point as a Public Health Emergency Coordinator I was over confident in my area of expertise and at times was not very coachable. Fortunately I had great leadership, colleagues and friends who let me know it and helped me be a better teammate. If you feel yourself already getting defensive before someone giving you feedback gives you advice on something you’re doing. Stop. Breathe. Listen. Repeat.
  10. Attitude: No one wants to hear you complain. Have life issues and want to talk? That’s a different story. However, if you’re the teammate that talks about “they” didn’t this or “no one told me”, then that’s on you. Your attitude is 100% on you. Yes, outside forces affect all of our attitudes at some point but we each get to decide how we’ll let that affect our relationships with others.

Listen to my take on these “10 Things” on BTS Bonus: 10 Things That Require Zero Talent.

Best of luck to you, me and everyone else out there working to control these 10 things that we can. I’ve learned from mistakes and triumphs in the 25 years since I joined the U.S. Navy and continue to now as an PMP credentialed IT Project Manager. Learning never stops, we never stop improving, but we have to be the ones to initiate and recognize where and how that needs to happen.

Stay safe, wash your hands and Godspeed,


Kevin Pannell, PMP, Creator & Host, ‘People, Process, Progress’ podcast
– Build the foundation at https://kevtalkspod.com/build-the-foundation

 #peopleprocessprogress #peopleprocessprogresspodcast #people #process #progress

#BeOnTime #WorkEthic #Effort #Energy #BodyLanguage #Passion #DoExtra #BePrepared #BeCoachable #Attitude #ProjectManagement #IncidentManagement #Success #Leadership #Mentorship #Teamwork

Update March 2022: Updated contact information and a few tweaks to make this article easier to find

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