Remember when I held a book challenge in 2014, and didn’t even read one of the four books? That’s actually not true. I started The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and got about 100 pages in before I had to quit. I learned a lot about the McDonald’s food manufacturing process – as weird as it is – but eventually the book’s science talk and agriculture statistics wore down on me.
So, that was that.
I did, however, finish the last book in the 2014 challenge six months in to 2015. No big deal, or anything. Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell, is a non-fictional assessment about what makes people successful – but, surprisingly doesn’t have anything to do with master’s degrees, running up the career ladder, or who people know. Instead, this story is all about how, when and where a person is raised determines his/her opportunities for success.
In a true nature vs. nurture argumentative fashion, Gladwell explores examples of the most successful people in recent generations (think Bill Gates), and how their unique life circumstances propelled them to capitalism stardom. Malcolm is also coined for bringing popularity to the discovery that it takes 10,000 hours for a person to master a field. It is shocking to realize how many of the people in Outliers had 10,000 hours of ‘practice’ at such a young age; Mozart, the Beatles, and Bill Gates himself each had at least 10,000 hours practicing their mastery by the time they hit their early 20’s – setting themselves up for unique opportunities to continue pursuing their passions professionally.
Outliers is in interesting reading choice for me because it is quite unlike other books that I enjoy, which are usually funny, teaching a life lesson, or have a unique writing style. Gladwell’s book is a straight-forward, yet engrossing assessment on how culture and our environments play an important role in our professional development. Overall, I did not find a true ending or personal ah-ha moment within the story; instead I chose to take away that each of us can examine our own childhood and cultural experiences for unique opportunities for personal success. What does being an almost twenty-nine year-old in 2015 afford me? How am I different for being raised in Ohio? What opportunities can come from my time studying abroad in France?
As I ponder some of these soul-searching questions, here are a couple of my favorite quotes from the book. If you’re looking for a unique take on what makes people successful, I hope you pick up a copy of Outliers!
- “By the first time they [the Beatles] had their first burst of success in 1964, in fact, they had performed live an estimated twelve hundred times. Do you know how extraordinary that is? Most bands today don’t perform twelve hundred times in their entire careers.”
- “Those three things – autonomy, complexity, and a connection between effort and reward – are, most people will agree, the three qualities that work has to have if it is to be satisfying.”
- “No one who can rise before dawn three hundred sixty days a year fails to make his family rich.”
Linking up with Mama Kat’s Writing Workshop for prompt #3: book review!