The Science of Success

Matthew Syed describes in this exhilarating book how champions are made and the science of success.

The notion of success – as in life success – varies from person to person. Some are self-driven and others by outward competition—the most vivid, primal, and dramatic of human pursuits. Before this majestic book, I would question what would make some more successful than others and what factors allow for a gap between the elites to the rest. Can ALL of us be the best? Are we holding ourselves back? Could the ability to overcome mental hurdles be enough? Matthew Syed, bestselling writer and international table-tennis champion (after insane hours of practice) take us on a revelatory exploration of being the best in his field and the true nature of talent in combination with success.


Let’s address the elephant in the room—Talent is not what you think it is. A psychologist at Florida State University, Anders Ericsson, conducted one of the most extensive investigations ever taken into the causes of outstanding performance. Essentially, Violinists at the renowned Music Academy of West Berlin in Germany were split into three groups. One group contained the cream of the crop, the remarkable and “gifted” students, the other two groups consisted of great performers and the least able performers successively. During the interviews of the different groups, Ericsson discovered the biological histories of the three groups were remarkably similar and showed no systematic differences. So, what separated them? There was one difference. Simple and logical— the number of hours devoted to serious practice. As Syed illustrated, “By the age of twenty, the best violinists had practiced an average of ten thousand hours, Two thousand hours more than the second group and six thousand hours more than