A Review of: Bounce

A Review of:
The Art of Turning Tough Times into Triumph
Keith McFarland

Bounce is a story that covers the topic of dealing with change and challenge. Told as a narrative, its’ simplistic style is only a cover for the base concepts that are worthy of greater contemplation.

The first concept McFarland tries to convey is that going through difficult times is a requirement for creating a top performing entity. It is during these times that we learn what our strengths are, and what they are not. This is certainly not a new concept. Many great leaders and teams have attributed their fortitude in the face of adversity to struggles they faced earlier in life, similarly champions often state that facing these struggles were what made them able to take on their latest challenges.

The wonderful thing about Bounce is that where many books leave off stating that struggles reveal and create character, or where there are obstacles there are opportunities, McFarland picks up the discussion. Through his insightful narrative, McFarland takes the reader through a fun story depicting the elements that can determine a challenge’s outcome and how to shift the balance towards an opportunistic outlook.

A look at two of McFarland’s six principles:

Embrace the Bounce

Referred to in the story as a “sudden loss of altitude”, tough times are an inevitable fact of life.   “Drop a Christmas ornament and it shatters. Drop an orange and it bruises. Drop a rubber ball and it bounces right back.” This visual quote from the story is what Bounce is all about. It is the entities internal structure that determines how it deals with tough times, and that is something that we as managers can control. This simple and actionable view I found refreshing. While we can’t control the external forces that can cause a sudden loss of altitude, we can control the internal structures that let us bounce back. The fall is inevitable, how high we bounce depends on how well be planed before and during the fall.

Look at realities

Closely related to the first principle of embracing the bounce, looking at realities reaffirms the fact that people often ignore what they don’t want to see. It also brings to light the concept that once people are forced to take a hard look at what the realities are, they are better able to create an actionable plan. Psychologically, humans often fear the unknown and it is that unknown element that can stop a great team in their tracks. From this view, managers who try to fool their teams by avoiding unpleasant truths are only fooling themselves. Facing facts and making actionable plans are what separates a team that shatters, and one that bounces higher with every challenge.

While Bounce is unlikely to contain new material for most readers, its focus on fundamental concepts is worth reviewing from time to time. Perhaps as a gift to a team that loses its way.

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