As Christians I think it is important that we read widely and not just books written from a Christian perspective. I find there is much that is stimulating and interesting written for the general market. Bounce is another such book.
Matthew Syed was the top UK table tennis player of his generation. He noted that the top table tennis players in his era all lived in the same area. “One street alone (Silverdale Road, on which the school was situated) contained an astonishing number of the nation’s top players.” He concluded that this was because of the facilities available in this area, the influence of a particular coach and the impact of having lots of other people to play table tennis against.
He went on to conclude that the nurture of talent was therefore far more important for success than innate gifting. His research into many different fields confirmed the conclusions he drew from his own experience of table tennis. Across the board he found that the key to success wasn’t natural gifting but the willingness to practise.
“By the age of twenty, the best violinists had practised an average of ten thousand hours – more than two thousand hours more than the good violinists and more than six thousand hours more than the violinists hoping to become music teachers………Purposeful practice was the only factor distinguishing the best from the rest.”
“from art to science and from board games to tennis, it has been found that a minimum of ten years is required to reach world-class status in any complex task.”
The research highlighted the significance of purposeful practise not just practise.
“Purposeful practice is about striving for what is just out of reach and not quite making it; it is about grappling with tasks beyond current limitations and falling short.”
“Excellence is about stepping outside the comfort zone, training with a spirit of endeavour, and accepting the inevitability of trials and tribulations. Progress is built, in effect, upon the foundations of necessary failure. That is the essential paradox of expert performance.”
I found these insights thought provoking and challenging. Are we willing to nurture the talent we are given? I want to give my best for God but am I willing to put in the hard work required? It is so easy to settle for second best or to blame my genes, saying I just don’t have the God given talent.
I also found some of Syed’s own conclusions helpful.
“That we should praise effort, not talent; that we should emphasize how abilities can be transformed through application; that we should teach others and ourselves to see challenges as learning opportunities rather than threats; that we should interpret failure not as an indictment but as an opportunity.”
In practise I realise that I do tend to praise talent rather than effort; that I can shy away from challenges; I don’t like failure………………
It is so good to be challenged! My summer reading has certainly done that.