Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Outliers, The Story Of Success - Malcolm Gladwell

I've been wanting to get my hands on this book for a while. I've read both "The Tipping Point" and "Blink" by Malcolm Gladwell and really enjoyed them so I figured Outliers would be good too. I saw an interview with him on "The Hour" (a Canadian talk show) and back in January I heard about the 10,000 hour rule he talks about and really wanted to get into this book. The library finally got to me in their queue of holds and now that I've read it I'm thinking about things differently. I'm looking at things through the "Outliers" lens.

It's got me thinking, how do I raise my children in such a way that they will have the best opportunities to succeed? I've thought that before but not in this way. You see, this book talks about how successful people, REALLY successful people, like top athletes, musicians, scientists . . . all worked hard but not only that had a series of seemingly random events in their life that brought them to the top of their profession. Without those events, without meeting specific people, without world events happening like they did, without being born in their specific month or year, their successes may have eluded them. So is there any way to manufacture that?

It's also got me wondering, what am I spending 10,000 hours on? What am I going to become an expert in, if anything? Gladwell explains a study which was done that tells how people who spend 10,000 hours at a specific task are the ones that become the top in their field. The study suggests "there are no naturals". What sets people apart in their ability is how much time they have spent on their skill.

"In study after study, of composers, basketball players, fiction writers, ice skaters, concert pianists, chess players, master criminals, and what have you, this number comes up again and again."
Daniel Levitin
This goes against my understanding of how things work but as I look through this lens I can see how it can make sense. So now I wonder if the gifted ones or "naturals" are really just the ones who enjoy working on their specific skill the most which enables them to get in their 10,000 hours? Who knows? I do know that this book was a great read and one I'm sure you would enjoy.




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