I had an interesting observation the other day when checking my kids' Advanced Placement Language and Composition scores. I realized that the three students that I had who achieved a decent score of 4 were clearly in three different categories.
One was a lifelong reader who read Vonnegut, Marx, and Dosteyevski. I could always find her with a new book every week. She was an avid reader, and mom and I always spoke about her interest in reading deep stuff.
The second student was the hard worker with average skills. When I gave her back a paper with a B, she always wanted to know what she could do to make it an A. She continued to revise and rework her efforts until they were perfect.
The last of the three students was clearly the prodigy of the group. When it came to discussions and making insightful comments he had no equals, even though he had a pretty mediocre grade from me all year (mostly due to not turning in assignments). He was clearly the smartest of the bunch.
I think that these three types of student could easily apply to cyclists who succeed as well.
Some cyclists improve because they are willing to do the learning. They're lifelong students, and they read and put the time in necessary to develop a good strategy for improvement. They pour over discussion boards and watch videos on training, nutrition, racing, and anything else they can find. They buy or borrow books from mentors, and they know whose advice is valuable.
Some on the other hand, get better by refining their process and in refining their process they improve until they can come up with something that they are happy with. They are perfectionist who always try to refine their procedures until they get the best results possible. They care about what other people think and outcomes, data, and results matter to them.
And then the last group, obviously, is the one that just has the amazing talent. Some people are blessed with genetics, some of us aren't, but at least we can look at our plusses and minuses. By doing so, we can see what we need to improve upon. For example, we can look at our power curve and see where our weakness is. We can then train that area.
If you want to improve as a cyclist, one thing you can do is to see what aspects of these three categories apply to you. Are you a lifelong learner, and are you willing to learn how to train better? Are you a person who can find the right people to give you feedback and refine and achieve better results? Are you someone with a few natural talents? Do you have it in you to try to develop your deficiencies and continue to improve what you do well on?
If you want to do well, study your sport, work to perfect your process, and build upon what you already have going for you. Good luck.