It’s been more than a minute since I shared a book review I know… Apologies. School took over and my New Years resolution of reading one book per month didn’t really work out like I thought it would. BUT here I am, review in hand just in time for some summer reading!
Anyone who hears the name Malcolm Gladwell will automatically think of his book that took the world by storm in 2009, Outliers. This book has changed the way I look at success and successful people forever.
I won’t divulge too much about it without giving away the entire book but Gladwell has a way with his words and a narrative style like no other. Drawing you in and keeping you glued chapter after chapter, highlighted quote after highlighted quote – yes I’m that person who highlights things in books!
‘…appreciate the idea that the values of the world we inhabit and the people we surround ourselves with have a profound effect on who we are.’ This quote concludes the introduction and we immediately dive into different stories on the lives of famous hockey players, computer scientists, hot shot lawyers and why summer break can make or break your child’s future.
One of the chapters that remained ingrained in my mind was on the topic of Bill Gates’ success in computer technology. Gladwell introduces us to the 10,000 hour rule: The number of practice hours one needs to put in to reach expertise level in whichever field. Bill Gates wasn’t just lucky enough to be born where he was born, go to school where he went school but he was also fortunate enough to get exposed to a time-sharing terminal that let him do ‘real-time programming’ as a young teenager in 1968.
Gates spent his entire adolescent life in the computer lab learning the device, spending weeks, weekends programming, clocking 20-30 hours on average per week. So for him, 10,000 wasn’t such a mean feat, he already had an early head start. ‘Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.'(42)
Ever heard that saying – luck (in this case success) is what happens when preparation meets opportunity? That is exactly what Outliers outlines for the reader. Stories of various people and their impressive achievements are not just glitz and glam but the stories show the backgrounds of the different people and how their success isn’t just out of their own effort but also a product of the world they grew up in.
Chapter 7, another section of the book that really stuck with me was about the theory of plane crashes. Yeah, I know you’re asking what plane crashes have to do with success and hard work but check out that chapter and you’ll see why it was so impressive.
Gladwell doesn’t just focus on famous success stories throughout the book but also includes different cultures and customs from various communities like the Jews and the Chinese, habits that have been passed on from generation to generation making their present offspring a perfect example of exemplary work ethic and why meaningful work is more important than just working for financial success.
All in all, this is a brilliant read and I wonder why it took me so long to get into it. This was one of those books that had been sitting on my shelf for years now and I only recently decided to open it up and take a look. Very glad I did because I have learnt quite a lot from it and I’m sure you will too.
If you have read it already, comment below and let me know what lessons you took away from it, if it helped you in any way. In conclusion, I’ll leave you with one of the best quotes I got from Gladwell’s work: If you work hard enough and assert yourself, and use your mind and imagination, you can shape the world to your desires.
Have a productive week ahead!
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