Most Motivational Books Are Crap—This M’sian Effort Won Me Over

Correct me if I’m wrong but motivational books seem to promise more than they can actually deliver.

“Change your life through these 10 easy steps.”

“Build your confidence in 30 days or less.”

And right this moment, I’m holding yet another motivational book in my hands and written across the front cover are the words, “Strategies to unlock your potential for success in anything you do.”

Too much of an overpromise? Probably, but I’m reading it more in hopes of reaching what the back cover says. “Congratulations!” it tells me. “After reading this book, you are one step closer to achieving your dreams.”

Considering how my dream and goal in life is to be happy, I was hoping Potential Matrix would deliver pointers on just that.

Unlocking My Potential


Potential Matrix is a 218-pager written by Malaysians, Michael Teoh, Ian Chew and the team at Thriving Talents, a talent expert company focusing on consulting, training as well as educational events production. It consolidated the responses from 39 successful young entrepreneurs from 7 different continents, and they are all below the age of 39.

In terms of effort, the team gets an A+ because through their interviewees, they made it appealing not just for Malaysians but for people all across the world. From Bryan Loo and Zee Avi to Lisa Surihani, the book covers numerous Malaysian icons across different fields and expertise.

Each of the 39 individuals had their own input, telling a tale of how they had built their own personal ladder to success. Here are the 5 pointers I learnt from them:-

1. We can discover our life purpose in 2 steps.


Experiment and reflect. Easier said than done, but considering how I already actively journal my thoughts and feelings, I have gotten one action down pat. The book suggests experimenting with more realistic activities such as signing up for various clubs, volunteer organisations or even competitions to learn what we are interested in doing.

After doing that, we can then reflect our thoughts in a journal. The team was considerate enough not to subject its readers to one long arduous hour of journaling a day, as they say even a 5-minute timeframe is sufficient. Every day before bed, consider noting one fascinating observation you had that day.

2. You are what you think you are.


The team had an interesting thought. “If you leave a Coke bottle open under the sun long enough, its gasses will fizzle out, making the drink taste flat. The same happens to your life purpose: without the structure of a sustainable mindset to direct your motivations and contain your frustrations, you will soon find yourself running out of steam (or gas). You are what you think. Your mindset will directly affect your quality of life”.

That is something I couldn’t agree with more. I’m always striving to be happy each day and it is only this mindset which will directly affect my quality of life, making it better little by little.

Also Read: Tangled Earphones Are Annoying AF—I Try Out A Gadget That Will Change That

3. Take risks in life because it is worth it.


In the 2014 movie, A Most Violent Year, character Abel Morales said: “When it feels scary to jump, that is exactly when you jump, otherwise you end up staying in the same place your whole life, and that I can’t do.”

Potential Matrix echoes the same thought, urging readers to “Try, see what works, and try again. Wash, rinse, repeat.” They note that doing so is not without risk but the biggest risk is to settle into mediocrity. After all, it is better to have taken the path less travelled, than to settle to a life of security behind a desk in a 9-5 job.

Go ahead take risks, because what’s the worst that could happen? Being lost in an adventure?

4. It’s not just your résumé, you know.


It’s what you can bring to the table beyond the sheet of paper containing your most polished credentials. Soft skills are actually something worth taking the time out to develop.

Interestingly, the book referenced a survey done by Adecco, one of the world’s largest HR consultants. The results demonstrated how 44% of senior American executives felt that the gap of job skills in the market is largely due to the lack of soft skills. This is something relatable to Malaysians too, as young millennials are finding it increasingly harder to land a full-time job these days.

As such, the book suggests that some skills worth developing are:

  • Communication
  • People skills
  • Persistence

5. Be persistent in whatever you partake in life.

Image Credit: Big Questions Online
Image Credit: Big Questions Online

The 2016 Olympics are set to unfold in less than a month, and Potential Matrix points out something which would make you look at Olympians in a different light. The book illustrated how Olympic athletes don’t just win their gold medals out of the blue—together with their teams, they undergo consistent training for months and years on end to get their bodies and minds in shape.

Likewise no change in life occurs overnight, and we shouldn’t wish it to be so as well. Most of the time, if we’re working towards something, achieving the goal isn’t everything. It’s the lessons we learn along the way and the changing of our views and mindsets that can help us to keep growing and molding ourselves for the better.

Potentially Mindset Altering

Most motivational books wax lyrical around a certain topic, hoping that this would stir up a sense of motivation within the reader; but the problem is we are programmed, as human beings, to tune out the clichés and get down to the fine essence of what the writer is trying to convey.

What I enjoyed about Potential Matrix was that these weren’t just thoughts espoused by a team of jaded motivational writers from the clouds of wishful thinking, these are actual real life stories.


The book was produced by a young Malaysian team and from the layout of the book, one can tell that they put a lot of thought into the design and content presentation. It wasn’t just walls of text, there were infographs, quotes, charts, and more. As a reader, I truly appreciated those details.

It also hits close to home and makes it much more relatable in my life due to the fact that somewhere nestled between the pages are Malaysians just like me. If they could carve their own sense of success in their life before 39, that proves the fact that age is only something which has been placed on the pedestal as an excuse.

If you really want to unlock potential in your life, the key’s already in your hand and what you choose to do with it is really up to you.

Also Read: 4 Reasons Flirting For Networking Purposes Is Actually A Pretty Good Idea

If you wish to read the book for yourself, you can get it here.

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© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)



Vulcan Post aims to be the knowledge hub of Singapore and Malaysia.

© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)