Welcome to my blog where I share book reviews
and life along the winding road

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Outliers - The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell uses the title "Outliers" to show that success mostly comes from people who are classed differently from the norm - those who do things out of the ordinary.
Image result for outliers bookHe uses studies to prove his point.  For example K. Anders Ericsson compared amateur musicians with professional musicians (some state this test was with violinists, others say pianists). The professional musicians who had reached 10,000 hours of practice by the age of 20 were the most successful. None of those studied achieved success by practicing a fraction of the time. This seems to apply in many avenues. The Beatles were a mediocre band until they moved to Hamburg, Germany where they played in clubs with non-stop shows. With that much practice they had worked harder and put their heart and soul into it compared to other British bands, Sometimes they played for 8 hour stretches at a time.
Another point Mr. Gladwell brings up is opportunity. Living in Seattle, Bill Gates had access to computer labs and a college with a computer club which was unusual at the time. He also came from an elite family which gave him access to prestigious schools (he attended Harvard). The 10,000 rule also comes in here as he tested company software programs in exchange for free programming time.

He says background also plays a big part in success. Poorer parents are passive and don’t fight to get their children into the best schools. They don’t interact in extra curricular activities and are intimidated by authority. Well to do families usually feel entitled and push for their children, attending games and encouraging them. Poorer people tend to think of extra activities as play time and don’t often participate. [You often hear of successful people who came from poorer neighborhoods but had a parent or teacher who pushed them and found ways for them to rise above their circumstances].

Mr.Gladwell pointed out that the idea that students from Asia have more success in mathematics is because of language and how they calculate mathematical problems and not because of culture. You can read more about about this concept here
In order to add 23 + 45, an American child would have to convert 23 to twenty-three, and 45 to forty-five, then add those two together. A Chinese child would just add two-tens-three and four-tens-five together, equaling six-tens-eight. The answer is in the way the language is phrased – much easier for children to learn.
He questions innate talent and points out that with desire and practice you can achieve success.

I found the book interesting. One thing I've found with successful people is they don't give up which I think goes back to the 10,000 hour rule.

Note: After Jordan Spieth's golfing success, teachers at his school were interviewed and they said whatever Jordan does, he does to the best of his ability - he's driven to succeed and predicted his win at age 14. He works hard until he gets it right whether it's academic or golf, which seems to confirm the above theory. He also has a supportive family who encouraged him.


Joanne said...

Gladwell is an interesting author. I've liked his books and theories - they are backed up with plenty of research. Practice practice, practice - it pays off

Nan said...

I've been meaning to read this for a long time. So very interesting.