Transcript: Matthew Syed, author of Bounce (Max#26)


Kevin: Welcome to Maximise Potential the podcast to educate and motivate through a range of original interviews designed to help you maximise your potential. Brought to you in association with the award winning recruitment group Jenrick.

Welcome to episode 26 of the Maximise Potential podcast. Matthew Syed has been an achiever all of his life. A triple Commonwealth Champion, a two time Olympian, graduating with a First from Oxford, a writer for The Times since 1999 and to top it all off he is also a winner of Sports Journalist of the Year. His most recent accolade however and the focus of our interview on Maximise Potential has been the launch of his first book called ‘Bounce’ where he creates a compelling argument which dismisses the traditional view that success is based around talent. Here is Matthew to explain his perspective in far more detail whilst relating it to his own life and career.


Matthew thanks very much for sitting with us today for Maximise Potential podcast we are sharing a coffee and a tea on a very dreary London day as always but we are going to talk about an enlightening subject your career both in sport and what you have done afterwards, your motivations behind that career but we are going to kick off with something that has really helped to highlight you and expose you to a whole new audience which is your book that you released last year called ‘Bounce’ and I think let’s just start off with giving a synopsis of where that book came from and what it covers because I think that will really help people get a flavour of where our conversation is going to go today.

Matthew: It is a book which tries to challenge a sort of a central idea that society and many of us within society seem to have. And it is the idea that high levels of performance, excellence emerges largely from the existence of talent. If we see somebody performing well whether it is in business or in chess or in sport or wherever our natural inference is to say my goodness that person must have been blessed with terrific talent, God given or inherited from their parents.

Kevin: Exactly you hear those expressions all the time don’t you.

Matthew: And it actually sort of emerges from an idea that is embedded in Darwinism the idea that our genetic inheritance determines to a large extent whether we succeed or fail. But I think when you actually look at the evidence excellence is not about hard wired talent and it is far more to do with the extent to which we transform who we are through lots of practice and particularly the belief that propels improvement which is that if I continue to practice hard I can become very good. On the other hand the belief that it is all about talent is very disempowering because any time we fail we interpret that as meaning we have insufficient talent and we are likely to give up. So it is our beliefs as well about the nature of talent and excellence which determine where we get to in life.

Kevin: Well let’s just dwell on where this actually could come from or the idea could have originated from in the first place which is let’s look at your own career within sport. No bones about it you have pretty much been Britain’s most successful table tennis player ever. You were the only person able to compete with the Chinese during that real dominant period during the 90s. You were three time Commonwealth Champion, you have gone to the Olympics twice. How did this apply to you?

Matthew: This is one of the things that really got me thinking about the nature of excellence because when I became the top English table tennis player I looked around me at the other top English table tennis players they came from the same street, the same road and a very anonymous suburb of Reading. I mean it was just extraordinary and people described it as a miracle that something like eight of the best twelve players came from this one particular road.

Kevin: And when did people realise this? Was it after you had all actually finished your career or was it during the height or?

Matthew: No, no we knew it but at the time it was like oh goodness you know Matthew and Andrew and Carolyn and Andy Woman and Paul Beck and Keith Hodder and Paul Savins and Jimmy Stokes and we were all from the same road, the same post code. And it made me think well hang on a second if excellence is about genetics there wasn’t a mutation in that particular street and surrounding areas. I mean clearly that must be an impoverished understanding of excellence and then of course you look at success and failure around the world and you see these remarkable concentrations of great distance runners [inaudible 04:25], the fact that one tennis club in Moscow the Spartac Club produced more top female players in the whole of the United States. It is not about genetics it is about opportunity and in particular the opportunity to clock up meaningful practice over time that is leading to these extraordinary phenomena.

I don’t deny and it is undeniable that there is an distribution at the beginning of the road. We are all born with slightly different skills. Some of us are better at mathematics others are better at sport others are better at chess and so on. So I don’t deny the idea of genetic inheritance and the sort of a bell shape curve describing the distribution of talents that we have. The reason that this initial endowment is so insignificant is that over time and with the right kind of practice we change so much. So we are all familiar with the idea that by pumping weights our muscles get bigger. Far more significantly for business is that the transformation also takes place in the brain. In the anatomy of the brain so for example London taxi drivers the area of the brain governing spatial navigation the hippocampus is far bigger than for the rest of us but they were not born with it. We can see from brain imagining experiments that it grew with time on the job. The area of the brain governing finger movements for pianists far bigger than for the rest of us. And if you were to you know look at any expert whether it is in business or in sales or in marketing or in table tennis the cortical mapping of the brain will have changed over time with the right kind of practice.

So the initial endowment of talent becomes less and less relevant over time and of course in the modern world we specialise for years in specific areas of expertise and if we are prepared to engage with them the mapping of our brain changes so much that the initial talent is almost not implicated in where you end up it is just to do with the quantity and quality of practice. The other intuition that is very important is just to look at the fact that we, you know when we see someone like Roger Federa hitting a beautiful forehand or Tiger Woods hitting a terrific fade we think my goodness you know I could never do. But the point I suppose is that nobody reaches the top without thousands and thousands of hours many years of dedicated pain staking practice. And if one was to actually deconstruct Tiger Woods development we would see baby steps taken over each practice session, each day. Johnny Wilkinson, Mozart, Picasso extraordinarily slow improvement but when we look at them we just assume they got their very fast. We don’t see the painstaking practice that went into the construction of excellence.

Kevin: I mean I found myself quoting, when people are asking me to describe the book, I found myself quoting the examples of well particularly actually Andre Agassi and he focussed heavily on the regimented childhood that he had. The way his father made him hit thousands upon thousands of balls every single day and his simple premise was by the age of X you will have hit more balls than anybody else in this country therefore by default I believe you are going to reach the top of your game against your peers.

Matthew: That’s right and it was a rigorous and it is not just true of Agassi and Woods and Williams and Picasso and people like that, it is true of every top performer in any area governed by some minimum level of complexity. Exactly the same story always emerges. All it would need is one counter example and the whole theory would fall but it has never been found and it won’t be found because of the complexity of the tasks that one is examining means that you need many, many thousands of hours of practice to develop the expertise. It looks so amazing and audacious when we see it in action.

Kevin: Just talk a bit more about how it worked actually for you and not just you but your brother as well and how it worked with Peter Charters you know lets go back to the garage outside in Reading because that is where it started.

Matthew: Yeah well exactly. So we had advantages, so we had a table in our garage. A table tennis table which meant that Andrew my older brother and myself could practice a little bit and have fun. So by the time we went to our local school to play in the table tennis club there we had already built up a certain level of expertise which the teach mistook for talent. It often is the way you know you see somebody playing you think my goodness they are better than their peers therefore they must be super talented. It is often to do with hidden practice that you haven’t perhaps seen. And once we had been spotted as talented players we were invited to join the club and to practice on club nights and then to join not just the school club but the local club which was a 24hr a day club. It just had one table in there but we had keys to go and practice whenever we wanted. So we were suddenly on this trajectory of development that took us away from our peers at the local school and on the path to international class table tennis. And it is the same path that all these people in Silverdale Road were taking. Joining the club, practicing regularly in a way that there were no other 24hr a day clubs in the south of England at that time. We also had a very good coach who happened to teach in our school who was widely regarded as the most sophisticated coach in the country. So we had this coalition of circumstances that propelled us along the path to excellence.

Kevin: Was there ever a moment for you when it went from just being a hobby into something that actually no I am going to represent GB for. I am going to actually make this a sport.

Matthew: Well I think the other thing that I think you really do need when you are practicing or working in a particular area is you need to have a certain level of passion. It is becoming more understood that with passion which is quite an abstract word you engage more meaningfully with what you happen to be doing and you metabolise information far more effectively and I think when I was practicing I did really care about becoming good at table tennis, it was important to me and if you lack that when you clock up practice you tend to be on the road rather not to excellence but to burn out. And I think good coaches, good mentors are able to gauge whether a particular person is internally motivated or whether their motivation is coming from outside. And when it does come from outside that can be quite dangerous.

Kevin: That is what I found particularly interesting you know the example where you talk about Laszlo Polgar and what he did with his three girls with regards to chess.

Matthew: Polgar is an interesting chap but educational psychologists from Budapest who fully believed that most of us have the capacity for excellence if we are prepared to sustain that hard work over time and a lot of people disbelieved him said this is complete rubbish and he said well I will show you with my daughters who are going to become world class chess players. An objective rating system in chess so there could be no possibility of dispute if his children did become very good and he started them young.

Kevin: He was just a regular recreational player as well wasn’t he?

Matthew: That’s right.

Kevin: Which again there was proof for so people didn’t say well yeah okay you have been this international grand master your entire life so.

Matthew: Exactly and he learnt a lot about the educational chess the pedegogy of chess. And he also emphasised the fun aspect of it so that the young children they didn’t see it as a real bore they saw it as a really liberating experience to learn and to travel to meet other chess players in international competitions. And of course all three daughters became probably the three best female players who have ever lived. And the interesting thing about chess is that you know we often think of chess talent as the computational force of being able to search very deeply on the chess board if I move here and you move there then I can move there and of course computers can search far more deeply than humans. We can compute sort of two or three moves a second. Computers can compute two or three hundred million moves per second and yet the best humans can beat the best computers. And the reason is simple success in chess is not about the talent of computational force searching it is to do with just pattern recognition and humans after long years of practice can look at a board and say right that is a particular configuration and they generate useable options as the very first ones they think of. It looks almost magical. In precisely the same way that Roger Fedora can instantly perceive the right way to move in a tennis match because from looking at the postural orientation of an oponent knows where the ball is going before his opponent has hit it. The same as a fire fighter looking at a burning building and figuring out what is going to happen next. It is not because he has got better eyes than the rest of us but he just has long experience of looking at burning buildings. The same with x-ray diagnosis, the same with great business men. This is a capacity that all humans possess to build up very sophisticated pattern recognition but it takes place for me, for you and for Gary Casparoff over many years of practice.

Kevin: Yeah and the incredible thing is you have broken it down into a lovely scientific answer but people who take a glancing look at the circumstance would say oh that is a sixth sense wouldn’t they.

Matthew: Yeah they would.

Kevin: That is so often how people refer to it. Oh you know you can get it is a sixth sense, such a natural.

Matthew: Yes this kind of mystical explanation is very natural and actually many expert performers find it difficult to articulate what it is about themselves that enables them to see deeper and more meaningful patterns in the world than others and you know it is called expert induced amnesia. They have spent so long encoding the expertise that it has moved from the conscious part of the brain, the explicit to the implicit part of the brain.

Kevin: Is this why many elite players actually make I was going to use the word rubbish, but make rubbish coaches?

Matthew: Certainly that brilliant performers often don’t make very good coaches for beginners. Because when you are a beginner in anything you really do have to use the prefrontal cortex explicit part of the brain as you build up the expertise. So when you first play tennis you know you think I have to move my wrist in a particular way in order to get the spin on the ball. But an international player would never think about the use of, you know they wouldn’t be thinking of the biomechanics of making the shot they would be thinking about where do I need to play a bit of tactics to that high level strategy.

Kevin: Sure because that bit is already in their subconscious.

Matthew: That bit is already encoded in the implicit part of the brain.

Kevin: Got you.

Matthew: So they find it very difficult to articulate to young people what they need to do because they are so divorced from it. It is a sort of a migration from one part of the brain to the other and it is a migration you see in every field. So this expert induced amnesia is a very common thing. In fact chocking when very high level performers suddenly start performing terribly like Greg Norman in the final round at the Augusta Masters or [inaudible 14:55] at Wimbledon when she was about to win is what often happens. And it is very well understood now when a real expert instead of just doing it and playing in the flow and with the if you like almost to a subconscious level allowing it just to happen they start thinking too deeply. They sort of begin to consciously monitor what should be done automatically and they are sort of using neural pathways that they previously used as beginners and that is when the great breakdown occurs.

Kevin: Interesting and you actually quoted yourself in the book as an example of that when you were in the Sydney Olympics.

Matthew: Yeah and it is triggered by anxiety massive, massive and I think people can relate to it because even if you are not an international sportsman if you are for example involved in a job interview and it is a life changing job interview where you have to martial complex arguments and subtleties to persuade the person you are sitting opposite that you are the right man for the job. It is when that anxiety is at its highest that you are most likely to break down. When you think too much about what you are doing rather than just doing it that is when you can suddenly find yourself instead of performing at a very high level performing at a very low level.

Kevin: I can understand that. Let’s just talk a bit more about the talent based mindset and then the evolving mindset which is obviously you know where a lot of the essence of your book comes from.

Matthew: I mean this is actually really, really well documented by an American psychologist Carol [inaudible 16:21] and she has looked at different types of people at different times in their life to see whether or not the way we think about excellence is itself a potential obstacle to becoming excellent. So she asked the question what would happen if you believed that excellence hinges exclusively on talent. If you really believe that being good at something is about being born with the gifts what would be the consequence of that. And what she finds is that people who really buy into the idea that talent is important every time they fail they see that as a real indictment of their abilities and they think well look that clearly means that I don’t have enough talent and therefore I am going to give up. It is a perfectly rational thing to do if you fail and success is all about having a genetic inheritance that enables you to succeed well a failure is a real strong indication that you lack talent so why preserve. If on the other hand you believe that excellence pivots on working very hard and slowly and gradually building up expertise then a failure isn’t an incitement it is an opportunity to adapt and grow and to push on. And so [inaudible 17:24] has measured the influence of this core belief about the nature of excellence and if you do believe that excellence is about hard work you will preserve and eventually you will excel.

Kevin: I mean it was quite astounding the sheer amount of research she did.

Matthew: Well it is interesting you say, I mean she asked secondary question which is if that belief is so fundamental how can you entrench the mindset, what she calls the growth mindset in your children, in your students or in your employees. And she does a really quite revelatory experiment which is to take a group of young people, to give them an easy test and then she praises half of the students for their talent ‘wow you must be really smart’, she praises the other half for their effort ‘wow you must be really hard working’. She then sets them a much more difficult test. The ones that have been praised for their talent are obviously very worried now about losing the talent label and they come up against these really tough challenges and because they have this talent label they fear that if they work hard and don’t get anywhere that will be a massive incitement of them and they are going to lose it, they are going to lose that label. They think oh goodness me I don’t really want to put myself through that possibility. Those who have been praised for their effort when they start hitting difficult questions they think wonderful an opportunity to show how hardworking I am because I need to really preserve to get through this tough question. At the end of the tough test the ones that had been praised for their effort scored 50% higher than the ones that had been praised for their talent. So [inaudible 19:06] was so surprised that she carried out the test with different ethnic groups and different parts of the United States. But the result was always the same.

So praising people for their talent getting them to think about talent being important is incredibly undermining of motivation and of performance. Whereas praising people for effort celebrating effort, getting people to think about hard work as a really valuable thing it massively improves motivation and it improves performance. And that is a vitally important lesson for business as well as for educational institutions and sporting ones. Because you know you go just to football clubs and people who think it is all about effortless performance you know showing your talent with this that and the other a couple of tricks they will not get anywhere in the long term because they are not prepared to put in the hours it takes them to the top. In a business if people think goodness me if I work hard but fail that is going to show that I am not very good at this they are not going to work hard and they are going to want to conceal their failures because it will be regarded in the business as a massive indictment of who you are.

Kevin: Absolutely and that brings me on nicely to again a quote, and I keep paraphrasing you from your book but I am sure you won’t mind that and I am sure our audience won’t mind that, but it is very much about how you refer to people going on to auto pilot using the comparison when people drive their car, when they first start off it is extremely complex it requires all their concentration and then as you rightly say the more you do it then all of a sudden you are thinking about what are you going to cook for dinner tonight, what are you going to do at the weekend, listening to hopefully the Maximise Potential podcast and several other things all at the same time. What that statement said to me was actually how people approach education and then their career because people go through education and then when they finish schooling at whatever age it could be under graduate, post grad, they could have done a Masters whatever they then say great I have finished my learning, I am now trained to do this and they start working. And so many people at that stage I would say go into auto pilot at that point. They don’t carry on and commit to continual development which is what you are saying that elites do whether it is in sport, whether it is in music, whether it is in music whatever. These people constantly drive themselves to expand, to learn refine.

Matthew: Yeah well exactly and you know we talked about the importance of practice but if you are practicing things you are already very good at and you stay in the comfort zone and you don’t push yourself the improvements don’t come. It is a very specific kind of practice called by Anders Erickson a terrific psychologist deliberate practice or in my book purposeful practice. The key is to keep pushing yourself beyond the comfort zone. So for example if you are working trying to ensure that you are continually upping your performance, so for example when Tiger Woods became the best golfer in the world he wasn’t satisfied with that he wanted to get better and better and better so when he practiced he gave himself increasingly difficult challenges. He set himself even more stringent targets and in our business lives if we are prepared to see ourselves as on a continuing development path even when we have become very good we will get even better. And that willingness to push oneself is absolutely central to that. So you know for example GPs who have been on the job for a long time their performance often begins to dip and to go down so their ability to diagnose disease from heart murmurs and from mammograms and cardiograms and x-rays and so on can actually be lower than for certain people nearer the beginning. That is not because their eyes have become less good it is just because over time they have not been bothering to put themselves outside the comfort zone. And if you put them on really tough training weekends when they are forced to engage with quite complicated mammograms where the structure of the disease is actually rather difficult to see and you test them again, and again, and again it is tough for them they don’t like it and suddenly they find themselves wrestling conceptually with problems that they haven’t really wrestled with at that level of intensity for many years. My goodness they start improving.

Sam Sneed the golfer you know would practice unbelievably tough bunker shots and tough shots out of the rough. He was continually challenging his motor programs to do things that were uncomfortable. Doctors who are prepared to do that keep upping their games. You know their level of diagnostic accuracy keeps going up and up and up in the same way that you know great athletes keep getting better and better and better. And we can do that in our business lives as well.

Kevin: Well you are an example of that yourself I mean I remember when you have said how much you went and sort after coaches that would throw you completely into a different area of analysis, self analysis and self development, skill development than you had ever touched on before.

Matthew: That is absolutely right that is one of the great skills of a great coach is to provide challenges that really take you beyond the comfort zones. So one great Chinese coach instead of playing with one ball would play with 100 balls. He would have them in a bucket and he would fire them at me pushing at the outer limits of my movement and perceptual awareness and you know I was forced to move myself into a higher gear in order to cope and my goodness it released forces that really were remarkable.

Kevin: Let’s just talk a bit more about you. I am interested to know when all of a sudden it clicked on you that actually it really was about all these hours and years that you had actually spent honing your skills and moving it and developing that part of your brain and then your physiological side. When did it hit for you?

Matthew: Well certainly it was the fact that so many great table tennis players came from one street. Looking at other patterns of remarkable concentration of success in specific geographical locations but also this whole idea of Darwinism that we inherit relatively simple things like eye colour, hair colour but actually hang on a second is it okay to infer from that that we also inherit things like being able to kick a football well or being good at maths or chess from our parents in the same simple way. Are there sequences of DNA that code for that? And I started digging down into modern genetics and seeing that that was an absolute myth it was in inference that wasn’t justified and you know modern geneticists rubbish the idea of the sort of Mundelein genetic inheritance that we have on very complex things. The complex things as I said earlier they are built up over time and because the anatomy of the brain changes it is how hard and the quality of our practice that is determining the success. So it was a combination of personal experience on the one hand sort of anecdotal evidence on the other and then a good hard long look at the science that sort of lead me on this path to write Bounce.

Kevin: I think the incredible thing is for all the science and research that is out there and you quote tons of it in your book people still don’t want to believe it in so many quarters of the globe do they.

Matthew: It is very interesting and I think you are right there is a resistance to it. The evidence is overwhelming even if you take the view that there is a level of importance for talent in the construction of complex skills there is no doubt at all that it is very, very minimal and far less relevant than hard work. So all we need to do is just move the dial that way because as I said earlier the consequences of believing that talent is unimportant are very, very benign for the world and for institutions and for individuals but it is difficult to move that dial it really is. There is an entrenched assumption in favour of talent which this book is trying to challenge and I really hope that particularly businesses but educational institutions need to challenge that because the extent to which it is embedded in the mindset of teachers that is really damaging for our children.

Kevin: Yeah you quote that an awful lot and you quote about how there was a period of duming down even the difficulty of exams, the difficulty of studying in an attempt to reverse this strategy but all it was doing was compounding it and just making people believe that yes they were talented and therefore it was enforcing this fear of failure.

Matthew: It was dreadful the idea was to give young people lots of confidence boosting experiences so making tests easy and then praising them to boost their self confidence. But that is not the way to do it; it is to challenge young people to do difficult things that begins the process of transformation but more importantly teach them that by doing difficult things and occasionally failing at them that is the way to reach high levels of performance. It is that combination of entrenching the growth mindset, celebrating the importance of hard work on the one hand and then delivering tasks to young people that really do challenge them. If you get that right and the consequences are amazing. I mean I left school with very poor O Levels but once I began to develop the growth mindset in my academic work plus being very motivated to understand the economics I left Oxford with a prize winning first class degree not because I was more intelligent than the people I went to school with I went to a perfectly ordinary state school but because I had that motivation and the mindset to become good. And while I was at Oxford I didn’t see any significant difference in talent between the people there and the kids I studied with at school. What they had was opportunity and parents who had encouraged the growth mindset.

Kevin: That was something I was about to actually go on to was the fact that throughout your entire sporting career you still went to Oxford came away with a First. 1999 you were writing for The Times, you have made a film for the BBC, an award winning film, you have been voted Sports Journalist of the Year. The list goes on and on and on and again turning it back to you you are an achiever but you have shown that you are an achiever not just in one discipline which again if this myth of talent were true then it would very much be saying well lets pick a stereotypical sportsman surely you can’t be academically gifted as well. But you have actually gone on and not just shown that you are academically an achiever but you can also then channel that into the arts, you can channel that into journalism, you if now got an award winning book as well. How do you drive yourself, where does all of this come from internally within you?

Matthew: That is very kind of you thank you very much. Well I guess if I was looking at my own personal journey once one is equipped with that idea that one can become good at something with sufficient perseverance you really do throw yourself into these things and my writing for example I was a dreadful writer at the start of the journey. I was just very, very lucky to have a patient editor. But over time, I am not saying I am a good and certainly not a great writer but you become a competent writer because you practice very hard. You read other writers, you look at how they construct their articles and their books and slowly but surely you become better at it. What would be the worst thing of all to start off not very good and to think goodness me I am now reading Graeme Green or Ian McKewan I could never be like that they must have talent therefore I am not going to bother. That is the most disempowering idea, measurably disempowering as Carol [inaudible 30:11] showed. The idea on the other hand that you can become a lot better with practice that is a hugely liberating and empowering belief now I don’t have any particular talents but what I have had is that mindset.

Kevin: Definitely and I think that comes across and I was really hoping that that’s what you were going to draw on. It sounds to me as though through understanding or gaining a real understanding of your own life that it has actually helped take away any fear any boundaries, any limitations that you believe that you could take your own personal life to it. Just giving you a great sense of freedom that you can explore avenues that you just generally want to pursue.

Matthew: Yeah and I hope anyone who listens to this will maybe go away and look at the book but certainly look at the evidence which suggests the potential for personal transformation over time and to take that into their own careers and their own lives and the lives of their children as well to say look lets work hard, let’s go for it, let’s understand the potential that we all have to change over time and see where it takes us. The problem with a lot of the positive thinking stuff was the idea that you changed your mindset and you became brilliant. That is not what happens you change your mindset and it enables you to take the journey and it is a long journey, but it is a liberating journey, it is a self fulfilling journey. You won’t get there in two minutes, two weeks, two months but over years, two years you will have taken the first few steps to becoming a far better performer.

Kevin: Absolutely and when you do hit those we will call them challenging episodes, those frustrating times what do you personally do to push yourself through those and push yourself out the other side, what approach do you take?

Matthew: Yeah I mean there is always obstacles and difficulties and that is inevitable if you are pushing yourself. You’re likely to find that you are occasionally failing. It is interesting that this core belief it guides the interpretation process. Like I said earlier if you believe that these difficulties are an indictment then you are really going to be powerfully demotivated by that. If on the other hand you see these difficulties and challenges as an opportunity you will continue and preserve through them. I really do think that that belief and as I said Carol [inaudible 32:25] presents really compelling evidence for it guides the interpretation process that we take with us on our journey.

Kevin: Interesting so you are saying that the only reason you actually hit these negative points is because you are actually pushing yourself into an area that is outside your comfort zone in the first place.

Matthew: Well we know for sure that by doing that, the evidence that you are outside the comfort zone is that it becomes uncomfortable. That you are occasionally failing. Great ice dancers attempt very difficult jumps in practice which means they fall over quite often during practice sessions. Great businessmen are prepared to take their businesses into areas which are very challenging and of course in those circumstances it can be very, very difficult. As you rightly pointed out when you write a book you meet really tough challenges along the way but if you are prepared to see these challenges there is a real opportunity as evidence that you are challenging yourself you won’t find it intimidating or disempowering you will see it as an opportunity and of course if you preserve and you build the expertise that is inevitably comes your way when you are pushing yourself in those difficult areas you will get better as a performer.

Kevin: Yeah so it is just part of your evolution, your learning evolution.

Matthew: Exactly, exactly.

Kevin: That is very interesting and I am going to wrap up if there is one piece of advice that you would really want people to take away from this interview from this podcast today that would help them take a great positive step towards maximising their potential and getting on that journey to maximising their potential through all the research, through all of your personal experiences what would that be?

Matthew: I would say two things. 1 – Unlock the passion you have for what you are doing. That can be an active act of will to see the meaning in what you are doing. It is very important to care at some fundamental level about what you are doing. That is number one. And 2 – exercise that mental flick which enables you to see yourself and your world as something of which you have personal control that over time if you are prepared to commit you can improve. I think if you have those two things simultaneously it is something that you see in great sportsman and you see in great artists and great novelists. If you can have that to it unlocks remarkable potential.

Kevin: Matthew thank you very much for your time today.

Matthew: Thank you.


Kevin: Thanks again Matthew for making time for us within your very hectic schedule. You have definitely given everyone food for thought on this subject. For me after reading Matthews book I immediately went back and listened to the interview of the likes of Pen Haddow, David Weir and Greg Searle. And I began to really pick out so many additional messages that complimented the philosophy of Bounce so well within their own personal stories. If you are like me and you want to get stuck into Matthew’s book then we have added some links in the show notes to both the paperback and audio book versions. So just go through, click through and you will find everything you need to know there. And in addition you will find links to Matthew’s personal website where you can find details regarding his corporate speaking services.

I am personally really looking forward to your feedback on this interview and topic in general so please post comments on the website and in the LinkedIn group and remember you are more than welcome to pass this podcast link on to any one you believe would benefit from learning more about this topic.

As always a big thank you to the Jenerick Recruitment Group for their ongoing support and efforts with this podcast. Next episode we are back with our final instalment from Morgan Cars this time with their CEO Charles Morgan. Here is ‘Marty’s theme’ from Xerxes to finish off on and thanks again for tuning in.


About the Author

Hi, I'm Tom Burkinshaw, I co-produce the Maximise Your Potential Podcast and Website and my goal is to help as many people as possible be successful in life, careers and business, by offering free coaching and mentoring through a series of unique interviews from inspiring people who all display exceptional self-belief, mental toughness and desire to achieve. Thank you for taking the time to visit Maximise Your Potential!