"Outliers: The Story of Success" was Malcolm Gladwell's third book, written after "The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference" and "Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking". In "The Tipping Point" he examined how certain things seem to suddenly become popular in the marketplace, almost as though they break through a dam that was holding the flood back. Gladwell theorized that often, things move in a certain direction, but the movement is not visible until the tipping point is reached. After that, things that were previously in the background move into the foreground. Blink was another fascinating book about how people often make life-altering decisions in the blink of an eye.
Outliers is a similarly analytical book which theorizes that there is a tipping point in a person's life. What makes a person successful, famous, rich or just really good at what they do? Gladwell believes that there is something called the 10,000 hour rule. If a person spends 10,000 hours doing any one thing, then he or she is likely to cross the tipping point and become successful. Gladwell backs up this assertion by using many examples, including Bill Gates and the Beatles.
Between 1960 and 1964, the Beatles performed a lot in Hamburg, Germany which gave them the practice they needed to become a really great group; it primed them for success. They performed for over 10,000 hours together, taking note of each other's idiosyncrasies. At the end of this period, they were performing in perfect unison. Similarly, Bill Gates had access to a computer lab from the age of 13 onwards and he spent a lot of time there, racking up his 10,000 hours which later led him into success. At a time when not everyone had access to computers, Bill Gates made the most of the opportunity he had been given.
Gladwell also gives us examples of people who didn't have this kind of opportunity in their lives. This is the reason why many people who have really high IQs don't always do that well in life. It's simply because they haven't practiced their art long enough. Gladwell isn't just suggesting that everyone work really hard and try to rack up their 10,000 hours. He's also suggesting that society as a whole should give people the chance they need to become great. He gives the example of programs for inner city kids which basically make sure that the kids spend more time at school and studying. More programs of this kind will help everyone in society reach their full potential.
Outliers is a very inspiring book which encourages people to keep going at what they want to do and not lose hope because it's really just a matter of getting those hours in. At the same time, we can also try to help others who may not have the same opportunities we do. Gladwell's examples are really engaging and his writing style is simple but elegant.
Malcolm Gladwell is a British-Canadian author who was born to a Jamaican mother and a British father in Hampshire, England. He was always ambitious, even as a little boy, and his father, who taught mathematics, gave him free rein over the offices at the University of Waterloo, thus cultivating his interest in books and libraries. Gladwell didn't start out knowing exactly what he wanted to do. He didn't have the grades to go to graduate school and couldn't find a job in advertising. So he finally took up a journalism job with The American Spectator in Indiana. Later, he worked for several years at The Washington Post and eventually became a writer for The New Yorker. He has published four books, all of which were New York Times bestsellers. Outliers was #1 on the NYT bestseller list for 11 weeks.
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