The other day, I was watching one of my favourite animated movies, Kung Fu Panda. It’s a great movie about overcoming who you think you can’t be to become the person you truly can be.
Watching it this time, one moment stood out in a way it hadn’t before. Po the Panda dreams of being a Kung Fu master. But after coming to the conclusion that he doesn’t have what it takes, he is reunited with his father and resigns himself to a life working in his family’s noodle soup shop. Then his father tells him a secret:
Mr. Pring: Po, I think it’s time I told you something I should have told you a long time ago.
Mr. Ping: The Secret Ingredient of my Secret Ingredient Soup.
Mr. Ping: Come here. The secret ingredient is…nothing. …. To make something special, you just have to believe it’s special.
Po: There is no secret ingredient.
Did you ever watch someone do something you’ve always wanted to do, but thought you couldn’t? They can, because they’re special. They have something you don’t. That’s why they can do it and you can’t. That’s why they’re doing it, and you’re not. They’re special. They’re unique. He has a talent. She has a gift.
Wrong, wrong, wrong. But a little bit right.
I thought a lot about this, because I’ve done it. I’ve had moments – many of them – where I deluded myself into thinking that I couldn’t do something because I didn’t have the innate talent. I didn’t have the secret ingredient. But what I realized is that there is a secret ingredient, but it’s not talent. It’s not genetics. It’s not an innate ability to do something.
Mr. Ping said to make something special, you just have to believe it’s special.
Belief. That’s the secret ingredient. To really believe you can do something. So see it happening in your mind’s eye. To know that it’s there – whatever it is – within reach. You just have to reach forward and grab it.
And the reaching forward, the grabbing, is the other secret ingredient. You can’t just stand there and hope it will come to you. It won’t. Those who get it go and get it. They put in the work. The hours, the sweat, the late nights and the practice practice practice practice to get what they want. They work hard, because they believe.
Effort. Determination. Perseverance. These are the secret ingredients. Not a talent you were born with or that something that you just know how to do. Lots of people have talent and are sitting on their asses doing nothing. Those who do something don’t all have talent. They believe. They are determined. They try and they practice and they fall and they get back up. They have perseverance.
What have you not been doing because you told yourself you couldn’t? Because you told yourself you don’t have what it takes? Stop it. You have everything you need. Try, then try harder, then try again. Work, practice, sharpen your tools, over and over, every day.
Because that’s the secret ingredient.