13 Sep Outliers
Similarities amongst leaders in business, sports, development and education are made clear in Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, The Story of Success.
If you ever question “why them” or “how come they,” I recommend this book. Divided into two parts the first focuses on “opportunity” and the later on “legacy.” One guess as to which we visit first.
Opportunity can arrive in disguise or as plain as the nose on your face yet we do not all seize the day as fast as some. Gladwell brings light to the subject with simplicity. He relates a number of success stories to something as simple as a birthdate. This is made highly evident with a brief look at a hockey roster and all the January/early-year babies. A similar conclusion is drawn when viewing a list of American billionaires. We are shown the difference of practical vs. analytical intelligence and how various circumstances within link straight to class. It is also here in part one where we are introduced to the rule of 10,000 (pg 40) and how it relates to greats such as the Beatles. While this achievement of “expertise” is based on the notion of practice and effort one quote stands out to balance this notion:
[W]e cling to the idea that success is a simple function of merit and that the world in which we all grow up and the rules we choose to write as a society don’t matter at all. (pg. 33)
Legacy lands in part two wherein Gladwell notes various patterns and barriers; following is one more section summarizing quote:
The question for the second part of Outliers is whether the traditions and attitudes we inherit from our forebears can play the same role.
A “culture of honor” is discussed, meaning there is meaning in where you are from (pg. 166). Lessons on mitigation are laid out in the distressing and personal favorite chapter seven. This leads into a highly relevant term known as PDI or the power distance index which illuminates the consequences of culture (pg 204). Speaking of culture, the author does a fun job of getting at roots of Asian children excelling in mathematics and closes the section with a chapter on KIPP schools (for those less inclined to read learn about KIPP schools and their success from the fantastic documentary Waiting for Superman).
I know the season is still distant enough for comfort but this book makes an excellent holiday gift idea.
The long and short of these stories of success wrap up into words like timing, family, surroundings, motivation, and determination. These qualities fuel a person’s own story toward “meaningful” work defined as “autonomy, complexity, and a connection between effort and reward” (pgs. 149, 150). Knowing your opportunity and legacy are but parts of understanding what it takes to become one of the true Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell.