Outliers talks about brilliance of talent or performance in our society that we regard as the ultimate success. What do the top NFL football players, the most brilliant scientific minds like Einstein, the tycoons of business like Bill Gates and top music groups like the Beatles have in common? They reached the ultimate pinnacle of success in their chosen fields.
Gladwell studies this extreme level of success and sheds an entirely new light on the phenomenon. All of a sudden, after reading Outliers, I see Bill Gates and Steve Jobs from a different angle and I understand their success better.
I purposely do not want to divulge Gladwell’s concepts here. You need to read this book to understand the points. However, one of the concepts he exposes is the “rule of 10,000 hours.” He argues that in order to achieve ultimate success in any field, the person must spend 10,000 hours practicing his or her quest. If that is becoming an Olympic skater, it means starting skating at age 3 and putting in 10,000 hours of practice before Olympic stature is within reach. Gladwell makes a compelling argument and cites numerous powerful examples.
I now find myself searching for where I have put in my 10,000 hours and what I need to leverage myself to have a fair chance of success. My point of view of success, that of others and my own, has shifted as a result of reading Outliers.
One of sections in the book talks about education, both in elementary and secondary schools, as well as in college. This is a subject dear to me that I am passionate about. Having grown up in an educational system outside that of the United States, I have a unique insight of one looking in from the outside, and I have criticized our system vehemently in the past. This book gave me new arguments – and, well, there is room for other blog entries….
Here is an excerpt:
What Alexander’s work suggests is that the way in which education has been discussed in the United States is backwards. An enormous amount of time is spent talking about reducing class size, rewriting curricula, buying every student a shiny new laptop, and increasing school funding—all of which assumes that there is something fundamentally wrong with the job schools are doing. But look back at the second table, which shows what happens between September and June. Schools work. The only problem with school, for the kids who aren’t achieving, is that there isn’t enough of it.
The conclusions Gladwell guides us towards are revealing and actually inspiring.
Outliers has contributed to a refreshing new outlook on success within me. That is amazing, as I consider myself an autodidact and an education junkie who has devoured volumes of seminars and books on all manner of subjects of personal improvement and life-long self-education.
Thanks, Malcolm Gladwell, for enriching and inspiring me to be more for myself and a better example for all around me.