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Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell is a book that explores the hidden forces behind successful people. Gladwell shows that as much as talent and hard work are responsible for many of the success stories that we see and hear, there is much more to success than meets the eye. A bit repetitive so you can skim some parts but overall great lessons.
Outliers are people who stand out. They are the top athletes, businessmen, billionaires, professionals, educators, scientists, and politicians. They are the definition of success. The ones that everyone looks up to.
When stories of outliers are told, there is a tendency to emphasize individual effort. Gladwell argues that there is another side to the story. Individual effort does count for a lot of things but it is just one of the reasons for success.
In other words:
Outliers don’t have a singular story. Luck, birthdays, opportunity, upbringing, and many other factors all play oversized roles too
The Matthew Effect: advantages tend to accumulate over time. Those that are given an early push get more advantages as time goes by and those that are put at a disadvantage continue to get limited resources. The Matthew Effect is basically another way of stating the law of cumulative advantage.
The story of outliers follows a similar pattern. If you are put at an advantage over your peers and friends from an early age, the advantages will lead to meaningful differences in performance that persist for extended periods.
The 10,000 Hour Rule: it takes about 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become an expert at anything.
But while this is true, the convergence of luck and opportunity is needed
For example:i Bll Gates had unlimited exposure to computers at an early age or most of the Silicon Valley billionaires were just at the right age (born around 1955) and were in their early 20s when the computer revolution began.
Yes, preparation does play an oversized role when it comes to achieving greatness but so does luck and opportunity.
Having high intelligence (IQ) does not automatically mean that you will be successful in life.
Above a certain IQ range, there isn’t much difference in performance.
There is a threshold for achieving in a particular area. Once that threshold is achieved, the influence of grades and IQ scores lessens with time.
Studies show that background and upbringing have more of an impact on success than IQ scores.
Children from middle and upper-class families are taught to speak up, stand for themselves, and express thought independence. They grow up believing that their voice and opinions matter even in the face of authority. And this explains why they achieve more throughout their lives.
On the other hand, children from poor backgrounds don’t receive as much attention from their parents. As a result, they grow to be timid around many situations and develop stifling deference to authority.
For some outliers, disadvantages are often blessings in disguise. Rags-to riches stories focus on the many odds that the hero had to overcome, but they fail to point out that the odds work to empower the hero over future adversities.
Outliers also benefit from “Demographic luck” or being born at the right time.
At the same time, engaging in meaningful work no matter how humbling gives you the opportunity to learn and grow.
Humble meaningful work can also serve as a pebblestone for the prosperity of future generations.
Cultural legacies play an important role in determining the success of outliers.
These legacies shape how we react to our environments, how hard we work, how we approach opportunities, and our deference to power and authority.
The difference in performance between low-income students and high-income students is not down to differences in intelligence. Given the same opportunities, students from the two groups perform at the same level.
Low-income students’ performance drops during the summer vacation. Their reading levels drop and their maths grades go down suggesting that the home environment has an oversized effect on school performance during the period.
With proper instruction guidelines and interventions, it is possible to bridge the gap between low-income and high-income students.
The length of the summer vacation also has implications on how well students perform. Students from the Asian countries of Japan and China have longer school days and as a result have better reading and math skills.
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Outliers don’t have a singular story. Luck, birthdays, opportunity, upbringing, and many other factors all play oversized roles too. This book shared the other factors.
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