Outliers:The Story of Success
A few weeks ago I read the book: Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcom Gladwell. It reminded me of Freakonomics by the way it takes something very complex, the influences of environment and other forces on success, and breaks these ideas down into something that a regular person can understand. It is a very accessible restructuring of a several scientific studies with some thoughtful supporting anecdotes. This is where I first heard about the 10,000 hours concept. The book uses this concept to demonstrate how individuals in all sorts of different fields achieve success. The author also talks about other influences on success. One thing the book considers is the right place, right time part of the success equation. The author also talks about how ethnicity and cultural constructs can effect a person’s ability to succeed. He focuses on how societies create barriers to success. Examples of these barriers in our culture are school summer vacation and arbitrary cut off dates for entry into school or sports.
While he doesn’t discount the value of hard work in achieving success, he does expose some of the unseen societal influences that create success (and deny some people success) and some ideas on how some of these can be adjusted to create a more equal society.
All in all, I found Outliers fun to read. It really made me think about my own opportunities and choices. He doesn’t say this in the book, but one of the things that I take away is that we can only control so much in our lives, and we have to acknowledge God’s hand in our life and his plan for us. As he shows in this book (without mentioning God), some of the things that help us succeed were chosen for us even before we were born, others emerge in our lives as opportunities which we may or may not grab. The only elements we really control is the ability to see opportunities and grab them when we can. It is also our choice whether or not we work as hard as we can toward our goals. The rest is up to God.