‘Outliers’ written by Canadian journalist and best selling author Malcolm Gladwell is an unusual and well-researched book about those who have earned success. I say unusual because unlike other books about success, Outliers doesn’t necessarily credit success to internal factors such as motivation. Instead Gladwell examines the external factors surrounding those who have achieved great success such as date of birth, environmental conditions and accessible opportunities. It seems Gladwell is convinced that a lot of people who have achieved greatness in their lifetime have been somehow…lucky? That’s the best way I can really describe the book because while he points out people such as Steve Jobs and Bill Gates he is not shy to say that their achievements are in great deal thanks to their life circumstances.
A major argument he hammers in when it comes to successful hockey players is the months in which they are born. Naturally if you are born in the later months of the annual school year you are presumably the youngest of your kindergarten class and according to Gladwell; less likely to become a hockey player. Other factors he strongly argues are ones upbringing and socio-economical circumstances, again all external factors.
So far pretty depressing read right? It’s kind of sad to think that just because you are born in the later months of the year your life is already predetermined for you. You can forget about being a hockey player if you aren’t born in the months of January, February or March! The most frustrating part of this read was probably the extreme emphasis on external factors successful people all share, which Gladwell seems to backup with statistical data.
The only concept I took away as a reader (without feeling totally depressed that you weren’t born in the right month or the right family) is the ‘10,000 Hour Rule’. The concept is simple:
To become successful at anything, you must spend at least 10,000 hours in practice and preparation for it.
Gladwell exemplifies the Beatles in this concept as having had to spend 10,000 hours studying and practicing music before they even got picked-up by a label. The rest of the book uses various different examples to really hammer in the ‘10,000 hour rule’ and that was a lot more motivating to read.
While this book wasn’t necessarily my favorite read, I would still recommend it because what I took away from it all was that in order to become successful; you need to master your craft. The external circumstances are somewhat true although I wouldn’t fully agree with it all but becoming an expert at your craft takes a lot of hard hours (10,000+ to be exact).
Secondly, control your environment! Gladwell emphasizes on how many success stories where the result of being at the right place at the right time so it’s important to try and position yourself in an environment that grants you with more opportunities that align with your overall goal.
Finally, Don’t get stuck! If something isn’t working you need to try different avenues. There were several examples used in the book of highly intelligent people whom for various reasons never achieved much in their life at all and fear was a big factor in their life decisions. This was also a huge takeaway point for me!
I wonder if any of you guys have read this book? Let me know what you thought of it! Were you as frustrated as me at first?