19 October 2012 Outliers: The Story of Success Published in 2008, Outliers: The Story of Success is Malcolm Gladwell’s third consecutive best-selling nonfiction book, following Tipping Point (2000) and Blink (2005). While Tipping Point focuses on the individual’s ability to effect change in society, Outliers deals with the cultural and societal forces that give an individual a chance.
Through a series of case studies, Gladwell insists that we have all too easily bought into the myth that successful people are self-made; instead, he says they “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. ” Gladwell defines an outlier as a person out of the ordinary “who doesn’t fit into our normal understanding of achievement. According to Gladwell, great men and women are made from having success with ability, opportunities to become successful with 10,000 of practice, IQ not being the only thing needed, and that everything comes down to generation, family history, and demographics of society. Gladwell is able to support them and give great examples on how things work out with a person’s life. “The Matthew Effect” examines opportunity as a function of timing. Canadian hockey players born closer to the magic birthday of January 1 reap advantages that compound over time.
Computer programmers Bill Joy and Bill Gates, both born in the 1950s, have taken advantage of the relative-age effect to become industry giants in the 1980s. Gladwell claims that Mozart and the Beatles are not so much innate musical prodigies but grinders who thrived only after 10,000 hours of practice. Roughly, ten years is how long it takes to put in ten thousand hours of hard practice and hard work. Both Bill Joy and Bill Gates had access to unlimited time usage on a computer at essentially the beginning of the modern industry and before anyone else. To become a chess grandmaster also seems to take about ten years” (41). This chapter makes a fascinating point that genius is a function of time and not giftedness. With this in mind we can observe that with hard work and a lot of time we can all become successful. Readers can draw a conclusion that maybe with chance and a lot of hard work and hours of practicing we can become successful at a specific task. As we continually read into Gladwell’s book we can see how many different famous people he has found that have had to put in many hours of hard work to achieve great success.
We can also now observe that with hard work and a lot of time we can all become successful. Even the greatest people had to put in many long hours before they ever became famous. Gladwell then talks about Langen, whose IQ is one of the highest in recorded history, yet has an extremely high failing rate in perspective to a personal life. Professor Robert Oppenheimer, on the other hand ascended to work on the Manhattan Project while he was in graduate school. He had tried to poison his adviser.
The difference is shown to result from an astonishing lack of charisma, which is a spiritual power that gives an individual influence or authority over groups of people, and a sense of what others are thinking in Langen, and extreme person ability in Oppenheimer, which is said to show that success is not a function of hard work or even genius but more of likability and the ability to empathize. Being able to be a likeable person is a factor of life that will never be useless. Many people who have likeable personalities will most likely get you further in life.
No one wants to do something for someone who is miserable and unhappy, but yet they will be more willing to do it for someone who is appreciative and presence is enjoyable. Someone who is able to empathize is able to take into consideration other people’s feelings and works well with others. A successful person is someone who is able to do many different tasks and always take in criticism. Being a person who is successful is not easy, but if you are willing to work for something you can always obtain successWe can tie this all together and become a successful person in the eyes of Gladwell.
Having a high IQ is not the only thing needed, intellect is important to become successful but there are so many more important factors first. Family background does play a major role, because if you come from a wealthier family you have quicker and easier access to helpful important things. Looking at things that impacted Joe Flom’s life we are able to see that even the smallest things can make a person an outlier within our society. Once again it can come down to something as small as what year you were born in as to what your parents do for a living.
I think that being at a certain place at a certain time can change your’ whole world but most of the time we don’t realize that it changed our lives until a long time afterwards. Gladwell was talking about how those born between 1912 and 1917 were demographically at an advantage compared to those who were born between 1903 and 1911. He writes:The explanation has to do with two of the great cataclysmic events of the twentieth century: the Great Depression and World War II. If you were born after 1912.
Those born in the later group would have graduated college during 1912 – say in 1915 – you got out of college after the Depression was over, and you were drafted at a young enough age that going away to war for three of four years was as much an opportunity as it was a disruption. The termites born before 1911, though, graduated from college at the height of the Depression, when job opportunities were scarce, and they were already in their late thirties when the second World War hit, meaning that when they were drafted, they had to disrupt careers and families and adult lives that were already well under way. 131-132) Those born in the first group would most likely already have started families and their whole lives would have been disrupted when they were called up by the draft for World War II. Those in the second group were born at a demographical advantage. To compare, look at when the World Trade Centers were hit and collapsed. I was only in 8th grade and had a limited understanding of the world around me.
My parents on the other hand were older and knew immediately that life would never be the same. Since then all the tight restrictions on things are normal for me while my parents remember a world where things weren’t so restricted. You were able to bring liquids with you on a plane and not have to worry about a terrorist threat. The whole world changed, in a sense we could be demographically at an advantage because the way the world is today is the only way that we know the world.
In conclusion, personality and ambition were not enough, but had to be coupled with origins in a Jewish culture in which hard work and ingenuity were encouraged, and in fact a necessary part of life. Having to scrabble in a firm cobbled together out of necessity because white-shoe law firms did not hire Jews, gave the partners an unusual and timely expertise. Flom’s firm decided it had to take hostile takeover cases when no one else would, and that turned Flom and his partners into experts in a kind of legal practice just beginning to boom when they hit their stride.
Gladwell’s discussion influences my thinking because it made me more aware of how family setting at home can affect our future more than what we might think. Also, it showed me that just because a person might have a 100 IQ compared to an IQ of 190 does not mean that the lower IQ person is stupid it just shows they lack skills in that particular area, they might be able to have a more creative mind than someone with a high IQ. “Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good” (70).