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Published in 2008, outliers is one of my top favourite books of all time. I often go back and pick up old books which has shaped my thinking and revisit for a fresh perspective . Books that inspire and help light a fire in your heart are worth a second or a third read.
What’s it about ?
This is book is about individuals who achieve a level of success that is out of ordinary. From rock stars, to remarkable lawyers, to what make a pilot better than the rest of his flock, or why asians are so good at math. So what makes them so extraordinary that they lie outside the realm of normal experience?
We often think that these outliers assess some innate, mysterious ability that makes them rise to the top of the field, however, most of these so called ” outliers” are not some mystical being, people just don’t rise from nothing. Some merit may be cause of their parentage or they may look like this “self~made man” which our society attaches so much credit. But in fact they are invariably the beneficiaries of some hidden advantage and extraordinary opportunities and cultural legacies that allowed them to learn and work hard and make sense of the world in a way others cannot.
Who is it for ?
- Anyone who wants to deepen his idea of what drives success and what are the things successful people do differently
- Teachers, coaches and others in training professions
- Consulting professionals and others interested in policy reforms
- The idea of a “self~made” man is very enticing and our culture celebrates this myth, but there is more than meets the eye. The author sites an example of a tall oak tree. The tree is the tallest in the forest not because it grew from the most robust and hardiest of acorn, it is taller also because as a sapling, it got the right amount of sunshine, a soil rich and deep and no rabbit gnawing its roots before it got time to grow.
- Once you reach a certain threshold, increased ability no longer help you succeed.
- To achieve world class mastery of anything requires around 10,000 hours of single~minded and purposeful practice. What differentiates a world class soloist from the merely “good” violinist is the number of hours they practice from the time they picked up the violin. The author sites many such examples to prove his point~from chess grandmasters to Mozart to the Beatles, all have this in common.
- How you are brought up can radically impact how successful you become. So Bill Gates is introduced as a young computer programmer from Seattle whose brilliance and ambition outshine the brilliance and ambition of the thousands of other young programmers. But then Gladwell takes us back to Seattle, and we discover that Gates’s high school happened to have a computer club when almost no other high schools did. He then lucked into the opportunity to use the computers at the University of Washington, for hours on end. By the time he turned 20, he had spent well more than 10,000 hours as a programmer.
- Where you come from ~geographically and culturally ~can have a large impact on our success
- If we recognise the reason behind the uneven playing fields, we can create more opportunities for people to succeed.
“It is not the brightest who succeed,” Gladwell writes. “Nor is success simply the sum of the decisions and efforts we make on our own behalf. It is, rather, a gift. Outliers are those who have been given opportunities — and who have had the strength and presence of mind to seize them.”
About the author
Malcolm Gladwell is the author of six New York Times bestsellers, including Talking to Strangers, David and Goliath, Outliers, Blink, and The Tipping Point. He is also the co-founder of Pushkin Industries, an audio content company that produces the podcasts Revisionist History, which reconsiders things both overlooked and misunderstood, and Broken Record, where he, Rick Rubin, and Bruce Headlam interview musicians across a wide range of genres. Gladwell has been included in the TIME 100 Most Influential People list and touted as one of Foreign Policy‘s Top Global Thinkers.