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  • 323: Book Reflection | Outliers: A Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

    Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

    ‘The desire to win and passion for what you’re doing. Nothing happens without passion and desire.” Malcolm Gladwell

    An inspiring and insightful read about what makes success. Malcolm Gladwell wrote this book out of his own personal frustrations. He was tired of the overly simple explanation of what makes someone or something a success. In his words the successful are noted as being so because, “they’re really smart,” or “they’re really ambitious.” The desire was to search deeper for the real truth.

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    An outlier is a person or thing that is detached from the main body or system. A movie that is incredibly successful despite a low budget and unknown director. A day in summer that is untypically cold. People who are great at what they do even when observed from an outsider’s perspective as being quite ordinary. When people, things or events are extremely left of right of what is average or normal it is often an indication that it’s an outlier.

    When people write or take action out of a need to scratch their own itch I find that is often when some of the best work is done. Gladwell has achieved a very purposeful well informed piece of work with Outliers.

    What is your definition of success? I believe it’s important to have solid understanding of this and not to allow your definition to be skewed by what is typical. Prosperity and wealth for example. Success may be defined as achieving at or above what you set out to achieve.

    Low ambitions will be easily achieved and if that is the path you are on do not be disappointed when you find yourself wishing for more. Set your targets high, dream big, and do the work required to get there. This will not only create levels of success in your life but it will also bring greater meaning into your life.

    Malcolm exposes a few myths about what makes success. In summary practice, opportunity, timing, upbringing and meaningful work. He goes beyond that general consensus that hard work, dedication and talent are the keys to success. While they might play a role that are not the only factors.

    In practice one can master anything. Gladwell provides insight into the 10,000-hour rule, first studied by Anders Ericsson. This rule claims that on average when we practice one skill for such a length of time we will master it. He looks at the Beatles as an example of this. In their early days starting out they performed more than most other bands would in a lifetime in a very short period of time. Naturally becoming great performers.

    There are expectations to this rule as it may be shortened or lengthened depending on the complexity of the skill you practice. In my experience many of the guests interviewed on The Hidden Why have found success after 10 years of dedication and focus. I would suggest that if you were able to last 10 years without serious interest in what you pursue that your mastery may be less than that person who has obsessive passion.

    This gives rise to the importance of having love and meaning in what you do as it enhances your ability to persist in practice and raises your ability to absorb and quickly learn what you practice. Gladwell states that the number one pattern of success is, “the desire to win and passion for what you’re doing. Nothing happens without passion and desire.”

    I feel it is fair to say that while hard work, persistence and passion will make someone good at something there are other factors that will contribute to one’s success. There is a great philosophical proverb that states, “Luck is where opportunity meets perpetration.” In other words, success comes when preparation and opportunity collide.

    Gladwell includes this in his research also as it relates to timing. He reviews the story behind the very successful Bill Gates and others in that industry that have made great success. His research found that those born in the year 1955 had a higher chance to meet the opportunity of success within the computer industry than people born outside these years.

    Being a Canadian himself he also studied how the month you are born relates to your likelihood of being a successful hockey player. He found 40 percent of all elite players are born in January to March while only 10 percent are born between October to December. This is due to the timing of when selection and cut-off occur, January 1st.

    While timing is important to note here it is perhaps more of the advantage that this gives those kids born in January as they will likely have 12 months more experience plus advanced mental and physical attributes assisting them in their practice helping them progress more greatly. Fascinating stuff!

    There is much more insight to this book than what can be reflected here and it is definitely worth a read. He reviews why IQ alone will not bring you success. Why being born in fortunate circumstances won’t guarantee you success but rather the advantages that they might bring you over those born in less desirable circumstances.

    He looks at cultural differences and the secrets they provide about success. How parents that push kids to question authority rather than just accepting things, being complacent or fearful of authority, helps them grow up confident in pursuing positions of advantage.

    If you are seeking insight into what might assist you in your success this book will provide it. Malcolm has put together a masterful piece of work that will help you question your current perspective, as it has mine. It is not a book used to excuse yourself from achieving the success you desire in life but instead using as a tool to allow you to achieve the success you desire. Enjoy the read and find your success.

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    If this book sounds of interest you can purchase Outliers: The Story of Successhere.

    Please leave your thoughts, comments & questions below.

    Peace, passion and purpose…

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