DOES SUCCESS EQUAL TALENT? Or does success equal opportunity plus practice.

Richard questions his training aims after reading a book written by Matthew Syed a former England number 1 table tennis player…
'Bounce'  is a book that questions the myth of talent that poses the initial question - Does success equal talent? Or does success equal opportunity plus practice. Once Richard started riding he found that there was a lot of talk about talent, he was bought up in a musical family and was often told of his talent as a musician, so is there a similarity for those bought up within a horse environment and being told they had a talent for riding.
Richard discovered that Matthew Syed questions the whole premise of talent. 
Rich continues.....
Rich and_Mathew_syed_1_jumpI was taught to play the recorder before I could read, so, when I got to school it was very easy for my music teacher to identify me with the word ‚Äö√Ñ√∫talent‚Äö√Ñ√π because I could already play, however the truth is there had been hours of playing and practice time that had gone undetected pre me even starting school that had led to my ability to play. 
I will now leap forward to when I started to ride in my thirties. 
The second riding school I went to the owner told me I wasn't a natural rider and never would be (interestingly he had never seen me ride so I wasn't sure by what measure he made this judgment). However the point at which I started making big leaps in my riding was when I rode a friend's horse in between my own lessons. It was this extra practice time on a horse outside of my 1 hour a week in the saddle lesson that started to make the difference in my ability.
Matthew Syed talks of some amazing research that took place at the Berlin school of music. 
Rich mathew_2The students were divided into three groups, the least talented being trained as music teachers, the middle group being trained as orchestral players and the most talented group to be trained as soloists.  For the most part all of the students had very similar backgrounds and it was hard to see why some were more ‚Äö√Ñ√∫talented‚Äö√Ñ√π than others, that was until the question of the number of hours of practice each student had done by the age of 20.  
This single factor shouted out more than any other.  Every single one of the top level ‚Äö√Ñ√∫talented‚Äö√Ñ√π students had done 10,000 hours of purposeful practice by that age, 2000 hours more than the middle group and 6000 hours more than those in the bottom ‚Äö√Ñ√∫least talented‚Äö√Ñ√π group.  It was a decisive strike in favour of hard work over ‚Äö√Ñ√∫talent‚Äö√Ñ√π.
Opportunity was also a factor that Matthew Syed listed, and in an example from his own life he talks of how if he had lived one door further down his street as a child he would not have gone to the same primary school, and so he would not have met his teacher who identified him as someone who could play table tennis and get him started on that road. This is out of our control to a certain extent, but it makes sense to seek out a yard with good facilities and a good instructor to increase the opportunities available to you.
OK, so how does this apply to me? Well, for a start I want to succeed at riding more than anything else, and I know it takes work to do this, it is kind of comforting to know that being told I am not a natural rider by someone is actually something I can ignore as it is something I can work to over come. 
The more I work the better I will become. And now for the downside, as like many of you reading this, I work full time, and although I only have one horse, it is becoming more and more difficult to be able to afford the number of lessons I know I need. (Having to replace my car recently and not to mention failing to win the lottery again - are just a few essential added costs in my world)
This situation can be frustrating!  I would love to be able to have lessons with top trainers twice a week and ride for several hours a day, but it is something that I struggle to know how to resolve in my present financial status. I guess, like most, my perfect dream world would be to have a coach I can train with several times a week and have several horses I can practice on every day with no worries about how I fund it all.
Rich Mathew_3The reality is, I can ride my horse once a day, 5 or 6 days a week weather permitting, 
I can watch friends training and competing and learn from them, I can go to the gym to try and stay fit, so that when I do get the opportunity to ride, train and compete more than I do now, I am able too, I want to make sure  that both now and in the future , I make the most of my riding. 
I can not state my long term aims of how far I want to go or how high, but from the book 'Bounce' I think it's fair to say that aiming high, taking the opportunities you can and practicing as long as you can is the best thing to do, and going forward I will try not get too frustrated at not getting the hours in the saddle I would love to achieve or not getting the number of lessons I want a week! 

And if you were wondering, Matthew Syed is of the view that SUCCESS EQUALS OPPORTUNITY PLUS PRACTICE (so there is hope for us all!). 

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