I don't have the "it" factor. Seriously. I question it's existence the way atheist question God's existence. But I work my ass off with the few talents I have, make the most of the relationships the man upstairs has blessed me with and pray that opportunities will present themselves if I put the work in.
Michael Jordan was talented, but so was Earl Manigault. What Jordan had was timing, help and hard work, and more timing. Same with George Clooney, who could've easily peaked on the television the same way David Duchovny has. And I'm pretty sure people like Michael Jackson or Beyonce who were the leaders of their respective packs (or families), were beneficiaries of timing and persistence moreso than this elusive "it"-ness.
And that's just pop culture talk. People like to believe that JFK had "it" and that MLK had "it" too. Hell, even Obama seemed to have "it" a few years ago. But all this talk about some special concoction of greatness is just a shortcut to the truth.
The only "it" factor anyone has is their ability to apply their unique mix of interests, relationships and talents to a very particular time.
Michael needed Scottie Pippen. JFK needed Bobby. MLK needed SNCC and other organizations and leaders. Beyonce needed her dad. And all of them needed those people not necessarily to develop their talents, but to accentuate and amplify them in the perfect way at a very precise time.
You mean to tell me Michael was that much more talented than LeBron James is today? Sheeeeeit, as State Sen. Clay Davis from The Wire would say. You think JFK was any smarter than his brother, Bobby? Or that Dr. King didn't have his shortcomings? Exactly...it just can't be.
These men, and women, are responsible for their own success just like my watch is responsible for keeping me on schedule. There were, and continue to be, several key factors contributing to this "it" factor concept.
Some of us may find it easier to focus on some mythical characteristic that few men and women amongst us seem to have naturally as children, and even fewer seem to foster in adulthood, but the idea that you have to possess something outside yourself to succeed to great heights is bogus.
You can do absolutely anything and everything you want to do in this world. No, not if you put your mind to it. No, you actually need to put your energy and focus and your dedication and persistence and your time and talents to it as well. And, quite possibly, your friends and colleagues too. You have to put it all in.
The difference between people who become great and are viewed as special versus those who do and are not is rather simple: they have a much more clear definition and understanding of what it means to be all the way in. Everyone else is just guessing; most likely they guess themselves halfway in, at best.
Are you halfway in in your life?
If so, don't expect "it" to happen for you.
It is only what you make it. You can make "it' great, but greatness does not happen to you.
Not that greatness is something that means you'll become rich or famous as the people I've mentioned above have done. Sometimes, this concoction of dedication, hard work, key relationships and timing is applied to something that will make your life and others' lives better without any special attention or recognition.
Perhaps you figure out a way to lose weight or commit yourself to doing a century bike ride. Maybe you're turning the corner on your career and re-dedicating yourself to school or learning a new skill that will get your more happiness in your professional life. "It" could even show itself when you're deciding to get out of a bad relationship or taking a risk and getting into a new one.
My point is this: while there's no such thing as the "it" factor, there are plenty of characteristics that can help you achieve the kinds of things that people who are believed to have some special quality achieve. These can be things of worldly significance, a la MLK, or things of daily consequence, a la your career. Regardless, the moment you stop worrying about "it" and starting applying everything you have...giving your all...is the moment "it" will become who you are.