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
- Spark of motivation
- A belief system
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?