In all my many years of reading books, one of the most prominent authors I have heard about time and again, is Malcolm Gladwell. Somehow, Outliers is the first of his many books I have read. Honestly, the ideas I had of the book and of certain theories I have held, have completely changed on reading it. You’ll find out why. Outliers: The story of success, is a book by Malcolm Gladwell that debunks the idea that there are indeed outliers in the world. Simply put, the entire essence of this book is to tell you that there is no such thing as an outlier. None of the billionaires, folks with impeccable IQ’s, inventors, and as many as you can think of, are outliers. Epilogue inclusive, this book has a total of 335 pages.
“Outliers are those who have been given opportunities – and who have had the strength and presence of mind to seize them.”
The general idea of who an outlier represents, is an individual who stands out. An extreme deviation from the norm. Usually, the term is used to classify those who have achieved some of the best successes, or those who are seem to be smarter than the rest. Asides been used for individuals, it shows one-off events as well. The similarity? It is extremely distinct from the sample size. ‘Outliers’, however, shows a completely different perspective. Using actual events and based on high-level impeccable research, Malcolm Gladwell traces the actual reasons for the availability of Outliers.
It’s almost like something off a voodoo map. For starts, here are some basic outliers that were assessed:
- Rosetans were outliers because they lived long and didn’t get the usual sicknesses no matter how much junk they ate.
- Certain athletes are regarded as outliers because they are significantly better than others.
- Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Robert Oppenheimer and more, are outliers because of how they achieved his billionaire status or success in general
- Plane crashes in certain areas are outliers
Based on research, Rosetans were healthy because of where they were from and their close-knit family culture; certain athletes are better than others because of their days of birth; Bill Gates and the many other billionaires examined, were successful because of the periods of their birth and the string of events they were exposed to; and the frequency in plane crashes at a period in Korea was as a result of the cultural trend in overly respecting superiors. While these seem like impossible generalizations, believe me when I say every lapse I could think of was covered. What every analysis suggests, then, is that we are all products of a series of events.
“Even the most gifted cannot escape the limitations of their generation.”
The period you were born, who your parents are, the school you went to, your cultural indoctrination, the colour of your skin or hair, how hardworking your forefathers were – every single thing matters. They all represent whether or not you amount to anything. Your life is as a result of everything you have been through and the conditions you were exposed to. He writes:
“We are so caught in the myths of the best and the brightest and the self-made that we think outliers spring naturally from the earth.”
No matter who you are and the size of your IQ, if the opportunities are not available, you would not get to the height of your potential. You can’t fight it. The apparent criticism would be that this doesn’t always apply, but a closer look would always indicate traces of facts. If Bill Gates wasn’t exposed to a computer at the age he was, there’ll be no Bill Gates.
This book was really astonishing. One reason was because of its ability to see seemingly random occurrences and establish impeccable correlation between them. It opens the reader’s mind to an endless realm of possibilities, in that there is now that belief that anybody can be an outlier. This, however, is a limitation on its own as it can swing any of both ways. In places like Africa where opportunity isn’t the order of the day, it is easy for an individual to relax. ‘No matter what I do, I’ll probably not amount to anything.’ While hard work and perseverance were mentioned, emphasis was placed on the series of events and opportunities available to individuals and not individuals themselves. Truly, it is a clear combination of both that produces results. This book was a wonderful read and it is recommended for everybody.
I rate it a 4.5 out of 5. You can give it your own rating below.
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About the Author
Malcolm Timothy Gladwell CM (born September 3, 1963) is an English-born Canadian journalist, author, and speaker. He has been a staff writer for The New Yorker since 1996. He has written five books, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (2000), Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (2005), Outliers: The Story of Success (2008), What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures (2009), a collection of his journalism, and David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants (2013). All five books were on The New York Times Best Seller list. He is also the host of the podcast Revisionist History. – Wikipedia