Book Reviews

Reading this Review of ‘Outliers’ Will Make You Realize that there Can Never be Just One Secret of Success

“Biologists often talk about the ‘ecology’ of an organism: the tallest oak in the forest is the tallest not just because it grew from the hardiest acorn; it is the tallest also because no other trees blocked its sunlight, the soil around it was deep and rich, no rabbit chewed through its bark as a sapling and no lumberjack cut it down before it grew large.”

Words by Sahil Aggarwal

We all know that successful people come from hardy seeds

but do we know enough about the sunlight?

 Title: Outliers: The Story of Success

9780141036250

Author: Malcolm Gladwell

Genre: Non-Fiction/ Psychology

Introduction: There has been an ongoing debate on talent, hard work and luck for ages. No one has yet been able to conclude or bring the discussion to a consensus as to what it actually takes to be successful. The most comfortable answer is all the three (talent, hard work and luck) together, which is a great escape from the debate and probably true. This book acknowledges the significance of all the three components but focuses on how uncontrolled and sub-conscious things (luck) around contributes largely to a success story.

Caution: NOT a self-help book or any global gyaan on success!

The title of the book: The two parts in the title of the book are ‘Outliers’ and ‘The story of success’. The first part, ‘Outliers’, is a self-explanatory term conveying the theme of the book that everything doesn’t fall in the regular pattern. The second part, ‘The story of success’, is debatable. There have been numerous of books and biographies talking about success stories and drives the literary work in that direction. This book takes the well-established success stories (from Bill Gates to Beatles) into consideration and then analyses the story behind them to explain what made them burst into overwhelming achievers. Thus, the phrase of ‘The story of success’ instead of ‘Success Stories’makes sense.

About the Author: Malcolm Gladwell has authored five books that were amongst The New York Times Best Sellers. As a non-fiction writer, he has worked particularly in the areas of sociology, psychology, and social psychology. When asked about the scenes behind his writing, he said, “I have two parallel things I’m interested in. One is, I’m interested in collecting interesting stories, and the other is I’m interested in collecting interesting research. What I’m looking for is cases where they overlap“. Several theories and phenomenon have been discussed in the book and the most popular one is the rule of ‘10,000 hours’.

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10,000 hour rule: A matter of chance over choice!

The theory is about how working for 10,000 hours on a same thing makes it a matter of perfection. Clearly, it involves a lot of diligent hours but Gladwell professes it as an opportunity granted by chance. He ‘proves’ that had it not by chance that a few people were given, the 10,000 hours wouldn’t have been a deliberate choice.

Take-aways:

  • A ‘self- made man’ is a myth as no one ever makes it alone
  • Your attitude is your upbringing and background
  • Less attention is paid to the significance of the economic, cultural and social environment, all of which play a huge role in making an outstanding achiever
  • Idiosyncratic experiences are hardwired than the inherited IQ
  • There are no defined set of experiences that lead to success but each case has its own eccentric calling
  • Rather than pondering over ‘What successful people are like’, it makes more sense to get a perspective on what made them successful
  • Disadvantages of luck can be camouflaged as ingredients of success
  • At times, it might look like an overnight success but if it is actually a ‘success’, it is accumulation of advantages, disadvantages, opportunities and much more

Quotes:

Biologists often talk about the ‘ecology’ of an organism: the tallest oak in the forest is the tallest not just because it grew from the hardiest acorn; it is the tallest also because no other trees blocked its sunlight, the soil around it was deep and rich, no rabbit chewed through its bark as a sapling and no lumberjack cut it down before it grew large.

  • Who we are cannot be separated from where we are from
  • Outliers are those who have been given opportunities and who have had the strength and presence of mind to seize them
  • The values of the world we inhabit and the people we surround ourselves with have a profound effect on who we are
  • Hard work is only a prison sentence when you lack motivation. Once you have motivation, it becomes the kind of thing that makes you grab your life around the waist and dance a jig

Other recommended books of similar taste:

  • Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson
  • The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
  • The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley

Editorial Note: In order to read more reviews of interesting and inspiring books, check out our Book Reviews corner here.


About the Author

sahil_aggarwal

Sahil Aggarwal is an MBA graduate with a specialisation in Human Capital Management.  He describes himself as an immature ping pong player, voracious reader, avid writer, Urdu shayari lover, a street foodie by heart and a perpetual learner. He likes to read various genres of books such as philosophy, psychology, epistemology, biographies and of course fiction.

One of his favourite quotes is – “I wonder and gaze upon myself as an atom in the universe and the whole universe within the self.”

 

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