To me, the wonder of reading is no small way attributable to that rare ability of some books to completely change the way its readers think , act, and what they believe. It is not often that I come across a book with that sort of potential. Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers is one such book. It could make a big difference to you, if you let it, if you read it.
Outliers, is in the author’s words, ‘the Story of Success’ but this story is told in a much different, possibly unique way. Each chapter takes you to a striking scenario from the past, or present, an example that lies out of the normal, or ordinary range of events. As you survey the scene, you can not help but admit that the people involved have achieved definitive success.
Then before your eyes, these remarkable facts are deconstructed, the conditions that allowed these people to flourish greatly are revealed – and often, the results are shocking. You see how talent plays a part, hard work matters but also realize that chance, luck, and at times, factors are ‘irrelevant’ as ‘month of birth’ can radically increase a person’s chances of success.
All of this is done with a logical, and patient approach. The author does not peddle superstition or promote ignorance. He offers you the details of each case, and directs you to their natural implications.
The things he says apply uniformly over people that excelled in many different fields, some of whose names are etched in your memory.
The Beatles, legendary artistes. Bill Gates, personal computer pioneer. John D Rockefeller, oil magnate who might have been the richest man that ever lived. (Hint : Because of the accumulated effect of inflation, his wealth would be worth over 300 Billion Dollars in modern USD, no one alive is close as today. )Robert Oppenheimer, Director of the Manhattan Project, the US’s attempt to create an atomic bomb.
Many of these men and women were frankly brilliant and astounding, but as Outliers will show you raw intelligence, soaring IQs, ‘genius aptitude’, alone are not sufficient for success, as you might have suspected.
Society, tends to be awed and subdued by massive success. We hear tales of rags-to-riches and immediately conclude that these people possess innate strengths and abilities, that we generally lack. But what if there was some other explanation? What if there many other explanations that we overlook?
Outliers, is not a perfect work – I personally disagree with the note on which the author ends the book, among a few other things – but if the truth about success is a story you’d like to hear, this is a book you will want to read.
In 1921, Lewis Terman a rising psychologist decided to conduct a study on intelligent people. The study is still running. He identified 1,470 children with extremely high IQs, some as high as 200 and followed them over the course of their lives in one of the most famous and longest running psychological studies. “There is nothing about an individual as important as his IQ, except possibly his morals”, Terman said. “We must look for production of leaders who advance science, art, government, education and social welfare generally”.
The insights from that study, along with lessons from many others are likely to change the way you look at success, and how you measure your ability to achieve it.