There are few things more frustrating to an instructor than a student who won't work. It's even worse when that person has natural abilities, because you see what they could become with a little more effort. If that person talks big as well, then the teacher ends up beating their head against the wall.
We had such a student. They had undeniable natural abilities -- their body fell naturally into the karate stances, they readily picked up new techniques. They had no problem learning new katas. They were also hungry for recognition and tournament glory. This was unfortunately coupled with poor physical fitness and an even worse work ethic. They couldn't get sustain effort through an entire class, instead always finding an excuse to sit out for part of the training, or slacking when they thought no one was watching. They missed training as much as they attended. Through it all, they talked about how everyone said they were so talented and would go so far, and how they wanted to win. They ultimately left us to train elsewhere, after spending several months doing almost nothing with our dojo.
They probably blame us, as they blamed the dojo they trained in before ours, and claim we had nothing to offer them and couldn't help them succeed as they wished. I have spent much time pondering how much blame we should accept. We all tried, but it was like a black hole; no amount of attention was enough, and no amount of serious conversation could convince them to apply themselves. Instruction went in, nothing came out. It was so frustrating to me on a personal level that by the time they left, I could barely stand to watch them train, if they showed up at all.
One thing I do accept blame for, although I'm not sure what more we could have done. But the one essential thing we failed to get across to this person is that natural talent only takes you so far. When you look at the people standing on top of the podium after a competition, they are all naturally gifted. What sets you apart at the highest levels is how badly you want it, and what you're willing to sacrifice for it. If you want to win, you need to close your mouth, open your mind, and push your body.
I've had the privilege to be around many naturally gifted and driven people, and I saw that they had something I lacked. These people are huge successes in their respective fields, and it's because not only did they start off with the talent and the inclination, but they did not allow for distractions. I'm different. I have natural abilities in several areas, as do all people. However, I was never willing to give up my other interests to put all my time and energy into just one thing. I realized very early on that this meant I gave up the chance to "rule the world" at any one thing, and that was okay with me.
Our former student still has not realized that they can't have it all, and that sacrifice and some old fashioned hard work will be required for them to succeed. We ran into them a little while ago, and they regaled us with tales of how hard they work in their new dojo, how much they are pushed, and how they expect to win on a national level. We looked at the slouching frame, the flabby muscles with no hint of definition, and the fact that we happen to know this is a training day for that dojo, and knew that whatever the other students were doing, our former student had not changed their ways. I'm not sure if they are fooling themselves, but they certainly aren't fooling us. I felt a resurgence of my old frustration. But they are someone else's problem now, not mine; it's no longer my job to try to push, motivate, inspire, teach, or even just get through to them. So I wish them well, and even more, I wish for them that they have a breakthrough in understanding and start to work for what they want. If they do, the results will be wonderful to watch.