Outliers: The Story of Success

Outliers: The Story of Success - Malcolm Gladwell In Outliers Gladwell examines the concept of the "success" tackling examples from Mozart to Bill Gates to the fact that Canadian hockey players are most likely to be born in the first three months of the year. Gladwell doesn't believe in the true "self-made man". For instance Mozart would never have become Mozart without the constant practice in his early years. Bill Gates was given fantastic opportunities to learn programming starting in the eighth grade. Due to the birthdate cut-offs, hockey players born in January are funnelled into the extra practice that leads to elite teams because they appear more talented, when really their just older than their teammates. We are also introduced to several people about whom we've never heard, but who are also undeniably geniuses. These are the people that make up the slightly discouraging part of the book -- what they could have done had they been given slightly different opportunities. Gladwell wants to take the lid off just how much success is a matter of a series of chance opportunities. It you're born in the right year in the right place to the right kind of family, you have many more opportunities to develop. Men who were in their teens and early twenties during WWII had much more opportunities for success when (if) they returned home than men who had to abandon established careers in order to serve. We also need to stay aware of how much our past culture can affect our future. Chinese students may be better at math simply because the Mandarin numbering system is much simpler than the English one. (Kids who speak Mandarin can count to forty when English-speakers are struggling to get to fifteen.) Southerners may be hot-tempered not because of some inherent trait, but because the area was first settled by folks came from the constantly-contested borderlands of Scotland and England. From 1988 to 1998, Korean Air had a "loss" (ie: crash) rate seventeen times higher than United Airlines, possibly because of the intricate affect Korean culture had on the communication styles of the pilots, first officers and flight engineers. It's only by staying aware of all of these factors (not necessarily eliminating them, but being aware that the playing field is far from level) can we ever hope to have a true meritocracy. Originally published at catherineduthie.com