How High Will Your Re-Bounce?


Book Review
Author: Matthew Syed
Title: BOUNCE – Mozart, Federer, Picasso, Beckham, and The Science of Success.

Publisher: © 2010 Harper Collins e-Books

This is the month of March, 2016. Continuing in the Christmas/New Year tradition, a lot of my friends still send their prayers and best wishes at the onset of every new month. To all these, I gratefully acknowledge and reciprocate in kind.

But the question I pose to myself and to all is, “So far, how high have you risen this year? And how much further will you rise in the next 9 months?” The answer to those two-in-one questions are best underscored by Matthew Syed’s book, BOUNCE – Mozart,  Federer, Picasso, Beckham, and The Science of Success. Matthew Syed, a former British table tennis champion. The main thesis put forward in this book (similar to Malcolm Gladwell’s, bestseller, Outliers – The Story of Success)  is that;

  • “Practically every man or woman who triumphs against the odds is, on closer inspection, a beneficiary of unusual circumstances. The delusion lies in focusing on the individuality of their triumph without perceiving — or bothering to look for — the powerful opportunities stacked in their favor.”
  • “It is the quality and quantity of practice, not genes, that is driving progress. And if that is true of society, why not accept that it is also true of individuals?”
  • “[clickandtweet handle=”” hashtag=”” related=”” layout=”” position=””]Once the opportunity for practise is in place, the prospects of high achievement takes off[/clickandtweet]. And[clickandtweet handle=”” hashtag=”” related=”” layout=”” position=””] if practise is denied or diminished, no amount of talent is going to get you there[/clickandtweet].”

In Bounce, Matthew Syed aptly debunks the Talent Theory of Excellence and expounds the Practise Theory of Excellence. In other words, [clickandtweet handle=”” hashtag=”” related=”” layout=”” position=””]you may be endowed with talent and ability, but if you don’t have the chance or the discipline to practise, develop and hone those skills, the supposed advantage will come to waste.[/clickandtweet]

What are the other lessons?

  1. Circumstance and opportunity are deeply and inevitably implicated in the success of every high achiever.
  2. Success stories are often one sided.
  3. [clickandtweet handle=”” hashtag=”” related=”” layout=”” position=””]Meritocracy is a myth. (No matter how good you are.)[/clickandtweet]
  4. [clickandtweet handle=”” hashtag=”” related=”” layout=”” position=””]Practise is what ultimately matters.[/clickandtweet]
  5. [clickandtweet handle=”” hashtag=”” related=”” layout=”” position=””]Half-hearted efforts will not get you anywhere.[/clickandtweet]
  6. If you are not constantly learning and practicing, when the opportunity comes, you will miss it. In other words, opportunity favours only the prepared. (Of course,  you already know that.)
  7. People and corporations who operate on the false premise that talent matters more than knowledge: will eventually breed workers and executives with the fixed mindsets who are incapable of admitting or correcting their deficiencies.
  8. Children who are encouraged and praised for their initial fledgling efforts rather than their perceived ability are more likely to make lasting and more holistic success in the future.
  9. [clickandtweet handle=”” hashtag=”” related=”” layout=”” position=””]Internal motivation towards purposeful consistent practise are what ultimately lead to success and excellent achievement in any stated goal.[/clickandtweet]
  • The talent myth, is the idea that innate ability rather than practice is what ultimately determines whether we have it within us to achieve excellence. This according to the author results in a closed mindset. On the other hand, those who believed that intelligence can be transformed through effort had a growth mind-set.
  • A growth mind-set is perfectly suited to the achievement of excellence; a fixed mind-set, to the achievement of mediocrity.

According to the author, not only is the talent myth disempowering because it causes individuals to give up if they fail to make rapid early progress, it is also damaging to institutions that insist on placing inexperienced individuals—albeit with strong reasoning skills—in positions of power.

Top performers reached their stellar heights  because they have pushed themselves harder and longer than others (the drop-outs, the not-so-outstandings” and the under performers.

And that, world-class performance comes by striving for a target just out of reach, but with a vivid awareness of how the gap might be breached. Over time, through constant repetition and deep concentration, the gap will disappear, only for a new target to be created, just out of reach once again.

The attainment of excellence takes time, dedication practise. The point been made is not that all of us,  children and adults should compulsorily be put through rigorous, highly specific training unduly. [clickandtweet handle=”” hashtag=”” related=”” layout=”” position=””]The outstanding take away lesson is that the application of purposeful consistent practice, even in modest ways, can enable countless individuals to realize untapped potentials.[/clickandtweet] [clickandtweet handle=”” hashtag=”” related=”” layout=”” position=””]Everyone has the capacity for excellence, with the right opportunities and training. And to this end, there is no shortcut.[/clickandtweet]

This brief summary doesn’t cover everything that the author or the book has to offer. To me, the lessons learnt here are vital ingredients for survival in the turbulent times we are in. Do well to take them to heart too. They are vital determinants of how high you will bounce or re-bounce in 2016 and the years ahead.


The opinions expressed here are entirely mine, just the way I understand the book. While I have tried not to distort the author’s message, this review may not necessarily and perfectly have reflected the author’s ideas.