Bounce – How Champions are made – by Matthew Syed

Matthew Syed was a former British No.1 table tennis champion. Educated at Oxford, he writes and produces films on sports. His book, Bounce, dispels the McKinsey-ish beliefs on champions with natural talent. He systematically dispels the myth of talent by dissecting sports from table tennis in England to Kenyan runners.

Key takeaways include :-
1. 10,000 hours of practice. He applies the Gladwell formula of 10,000 hours of practice to achieve a world class standard. He cites the example of 90% of Kenyan runners coming from a village where they had to run 21km to school and back every day from the age of 4. By the time the Kenyan hit 21, he/she would have achieved 10,000 hours of practice. In applying this to the business world, people can be successful after their 10,000 hours of practice. Examples cited include table tennis champions with “slow” natural reflexes. Their skills come from being able to read the other player to know where the ball will be. In applying this to a business setting, an accountant after 10,000 hours of practice may be able to take a quick look at the books and “know” where the issues lie. Even Anthony Robbins talks about the importance of gaining as much experience as you can to be good at something.

2. The practice must be purposeful. There must be feedback – the person has to learn from his/her mistakes and ensure that they don’t repeat them. The practice is repetitive and it is mentally taxing.

3. Skills for success include passion and motivation for the chosen field. Without this, one cannot succeed.

Overall, it’s a well written insightful read. Syed’s book is applicable to new parents as well as leaders who want to improve the competency of their organization.


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