Tag Archives: talent myth

Monday Morning Motivation – Bounce by Matthew Syed

15 Sep

I’m really interested in Matthew Syed’s hypothesis that talent is a myth and that success is a consequence of purposeful practice.


It is hard to summarise all of Syed’s arguments, but here are some of the elements that he says make someone successful (in sports):

  • Having access to the appropriate kit/facilities
  • Having easy access to a suitable training partner (how many high-profile siblings can you think of? Venus and Serena Williams; Alistair and Jonny Brownlee; Anton and Rio Ferdinand; Andy and Jamie Murray; Tony and Rory Underwood; Phil and Gary Neville; Vitaly and Wladimir Klitschko; Michael and Ralf Schumacher…)
  • Having access to a good coach
  • Having access to a club or training group
  • Ability to make quick decisions based on expert knowledge (using chunking patterns)
  • Body type
  • Purposeful practice
  • Responding to feedback
  • Mindset
  • Spark of motivation
  • A belief system
  • Optimism

Suggesting that talent is a myth means that no-one can say that they are not good at something because they were not born with a special ability. I find this to be motivational as it means that my success in life is (mainly) down to my own efforts, with only a bit of luck and genes thrown in.

What do you think of Syed’s hypothesis?