Outliers: The Story of Success
By Malcolm Gladwell
Outliers: The Story of Success is a book that examines the qualities and experiences of successful people in order to provide a blueprint for nurturing the human potential. According to the author, Malcolm Gladwell, human potential is not something one is born with but something that has to be shaped throughout one’s life course. Contrary to popular belief, having a high IQ or a lucky break are good opportunities to have, however, they do not contribute to an individual’s success alone. Gladwell realized that it took a combination of biological, personal, social, and environmental factors to help an individual reach their full potential. Examples of those factors that influence one’s success include timing of birth, area where one lives, family history, and culture. These factors make up concepts that Gladwell described as practical intelligence, social savvy, natural growth, and natural advantage. In addition to these factors, he discussed how anyone can succeed if they were willing to practice and work hard. He demonstrated this theory by researching the different stories of successful people and he found a common denominator, long hours of professional practice. He referred to this as the “10,000 Hour Rule. He mentioned that it took 10,000 hours or approximately 10 years of practice to perfect a professional trade. Outliers are successful people that are not your ordinary individual. However, the distinction of a true outlier can be attributed from the author’s recipe of success: the right combination of the different factors, practice, and hard work.
Gladwell knew that IQ was not the sole determinant of success. So he developed other concepts based on family circumstances that included the time period of birth and child rearing, as well as, one’s acquired knowledge through education. Robert Sternberg described practical intelligence as a procedural method of knowledge that helps one know how, when, and what to say to whom to get what they desired. Gladwell looked at the life’s courses of successful people and found that many sports players born at a certain time of year were more likely to be selected for professional hockey or soccer teams. He discovered that they had more time to practice and become better at playing these sports before the team’s selection process. He also looked at the time period at which one was born such as Bill Joy or Bill Gates, to show how they were born at the perfect time to refine a skill and change the world when the opportunity presented itself later in life. These examples show that each of these people acquired the proper skills from lots of hard work and long hours of practice; nonetheless, they were also at the right place at the right time, which were made possible through family circumstances.
Social savvy is another process of acquiring knowledge that includes a collection of skills that had to be learned. These skills and attitudes are usually passed down through family generations and the chances of success are strongly influenced by their cultural legacy. Annette Laureate was a sociologist who best explained this concept after studying a group of black and white 3rd graders from different socioeconomic statuses. She discovered that the socioeconomic status played a major role in children developing social savvy skills. However, the two parenting style “philosophies” were divided along class lines. Wealthy and middle-class parents supported their children and encouraged them to pursue goals. Wealthy children’s parents tended to be very involved in their child’s life and their schedules were filled with numerous activities. Middle-class parents used reasoning with their children to teach their children how to talk, negotiate, and question authority figures to obtain more information. This parenting style was called “concerted cultivation” because it nurtured and evaluated a child’s opinions, talents, and skills....
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