Wednesday, December 12, 2012
2012 Book Review: "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell
"Outliers: The Story of Success"
by Malcolm Gladwell
Reviewed by Kathleen Buchanan
"I want to convince you that these kinds of
personal explanations of success don't work. People don't rise from
nothing. . .It is only by asking where they are from that we can unravel
the logic behind who succeeds and who doesn't."
commonly, people are more or less convinced that success is self-made;
that blood, sweat and tears are the keys to success. Malcolm Gladwell
suggests otherwise, "[successful people] are invariably the
beneficiaries of hidden advantages and extraordinary opportunities and
cultural legacies that allow them to learn and work hard and make sense
of the world in ways others cannot. It makes a difference where and
when we grew up."
Through a series of case studies, Gladwell
describes "outliers" as successful people who possess qualities out of
their control and are beneficiaries of time, place and culture. For
example, aspiring professional hockey players have a better chance of
success the closer they are born to the magic date of January 1.
Gladwell attempts to prove many more examples in 296 pages of theories
and charts due to skepticism of popular belief. Gladwell tries to
convey to the reader that if you are lucky enough to possess these
special demographics, you will only become successful after you put in
your 10,000th hour.
"Outliers" is a difficult read for those who do
not tend to think analytically. If you are like myself, and think that
successful people can be self-made, be prepared to disagree with
Gladwell's statistics and studies. However, this book is thought
provoking. Maybe after reading "Outliers" you will find that you are
that person who has benefited from special demographics out of your
control. This book is for the skeptic that lives in all of us that's
curious to explore options otherwise not spoken about. You may begin to
question everything you have been taught about success; consequently,
you may even begin to question your own success and what demographics
allowed you to get there.