What drives you?

Talent is overrated

Olabanji Stephen
3 min readJan 22, 2021

I recently met an old friend…on the internet and he reminded me of how far we have come.

Emmanuel and I played the keyboard in high school. We’d take turns at playing the national anthem and school anthem.

MI SO FA RE SO FA MI, DO MI RE RE TI SO DO… (Notes from our school anthem). I remember it like it was yesterday

We loved music so much, we spent most of our break-time with Mr. Adeyemo (our music teacher) who eventually became our friend. We made a family out of what we loved.

We played at school events and even performed at our proprietress’s daughter’s wedding.

Well, Emmanuel is in Russia now and he doesn’t play the keyboard anymore. It’s been a while since I played too…

But, shouldn’t we have made a career out of what we loved?

We each do different things now but the very thing that drove us to make music is what drives us now and whilst the medium of expression has changed the core driver hasn’t. That’s the point.

I had the privilege of meeting my mentor, Dr. Dala Alphonso again after a long time and he said,

Whilst your goal and what drives you may remain the same, you must understand that the medium of expression may change and sometimes, should change. — D.A

For Emmanuel and me, it was about the ART, creativity, making meaning from pieces, arranging, building…

Emmanuel is into Media and Politics now, I read one of his reviews on the state of politics in the US and I could almost hear him playing the keyboard in the piece.

I do brand strategy and visual design, I have planned and organized conferences with thousands of people in attendance, I recently started designing buildings, floor plans, and CGI’s. My architect friends think I’m crazy. Well, I can write too.

This brings me to the subject of talent. If you saw me and Emmanuel years ago, you’d have said we were “born musicians” or “that was our gift” especially him because he also played the flute, the trumpet, the drums, and almost anything that made sounds. But you’d be wrong.

It was only a medium of expression, not the mechanism or the drive.

Talent is overrated and often times, we undermine our ability to learn new things and be just as great.

This places greater importance on the question of DRIVE.

What DRIVES you?

For me and Emmanuel, the very thing that drove us to learn and make music is what sponsors Emmanuel’s articles, photos, and political reviews. It’s the very thing behind my designs, the strategy, this article… It’s about making meaning, creating, arranging, building…

What this means is that you need two qualities to be great at anything.

1. An understanding of what drives you

2. The discipline to learn the skill

Now, knowing that you can learn anything and be great at it. The question becomes, to what end, and for what reason?

I should have used another title, perhaps named this article ‘Concept vs Mechanics’. I guess that’s what I’ll write next. I hope you stick around.



Olabanji Stephen

I see the world differently and attempt to interpret it in ways that inspire genius