At one time or the other, we wonder where the best and brightest people in the world come from. We wonder, "What were they like as kids?" and "What is their back story?" Malcolm Gladwell answers these questions in his new book, "Outliers: The Story of Success". In this book, he guides us through the journeys of the most successful business people, professional athletes and entertainers in the world. Malcolm defines an outlier as a person who is so out of the ordinary that their level of success is beyond our level of understanding. He indicates what their culture is like, their families and the unique nature of how they grew up.
The author divulges the secrets of billionaires in the field of Information Technology as well as the practices of the greatest soccer players. He investigates why specific groups of people are great at particular skills and why some entertainers are simply a cut above the rest. This book is bound to reveal the inner workings of the world's greatest minds and inspire you. Read on to learn some lessons we learned from "Outliers: The Story of Success".
Opportunity is exponential in nature
In his book, the author explains that opportunity is exponential. Majority of people quickly overlook the many opportunities and advantages that cause outliers to shine more than everyone else. Normally, success is attributed to individual characteristics such as the ability to work hard, have natural talent and be highly motivated. However, Gladwell indicates that outliers have all these and an extra special characteristic on top. They naturally have access to some opportunities that their competitors don't. He illustrates this through an example about professional hockey players.
While considering the roster of a youth hockey team in Canada in 2007, a psychologist noticed that the most successful players were born in the first three months of the year instead of the last three. This made them achieve the next age bracket earlier than other kids born later in the year. This accelerated style of maturity made it so that they were selected for senior teams earlier than their competitors due to having achieved the cutoff age earlier. In most cases, they found themselves being the youngest ones in the senior teams. Thus, they were pushed to excel and the pattern of high performance continued into their older ages and eventually their professional careers. Thus, by being born at the right time, they had access to opportunities that their peers did not have access to. This eventually made them outliers.
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The 10,000 hour rule
Malcolm Gladwell is one of the authors around the world who has made the 10,000 hour rule more popular. He attributes the exceptional performance of prodigies and mega stars like The Beatles, Bill Gates and Wolfgang Mozart to this rule. According to Gladwell, you need a lot more than just natural talent to achieve the success of an outlier. It is well documented that these individuals have tremendous amounts of natural talent. However, they need to complete their 10,000 hours so as to achieve complete mastery of their skills.
The author indicates that you need to complete this number of hours performing deliberate practice in a particular skill before you can master it and make it second nature. He goes ahead to indicate that you need to complete even more hours so as to become a certified outlier.
A high Intelligence Quotient (IQ) does not signify guaranteed success
It is generally accepted that people who have a high IQ are likely to be more successful than those with a lower one. Gladwell challenges this assumption. He cites a study conducted by a psychology professor named Lewis Terman. The professor observed 1500 children with a genius IQ of over 150. He concluded that although there is definitely a relationship between a high IQ and excellent performance in life, this relationship diminishes and disappears beyond the IQ level of 120. IQ is measured using tests. Normally, they are convergence tests. They require the performer to pick out one solution out of a number of options. Gladwell suggests another form of testing known as divergent testing. It requires the performers to come up with as many solutions as possible to a problem as they can. This requires creative thinking.
When a group of very high IQ students and another group of average students were put to a divergent test, the average students scored much higher than their counterparts. This is because they were simply more creative and had a broader view of the situation described in the test than the high IQ students. Therefore, high IQ does not automatically mean that you will be successful. It only means that you may have a higher chance at success. On the other hand, those with an average or low IQ still have a great chance of being successful by relying on their creative thinking ability.
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How to achieve fulfillment in your life
If you want to experience fulfillment in your work or vocation, there are thee main factors that it must give you. First of all, it should give you the autonomy which you desire to work. After that, it should be complex enough to give you the necessary mental or physical challenge. Last but not least, there should be a connection between your efforts and the rewards that you get. When these three factors are present in your work, Malcolm guarantees that you will enjoy fulfillment as you perform it.
The Important Take Away
Outliers are the captains of industry today. They are famous, filthy rich and are seen as role models for the rest of us. Despite looking and sounding like us, they have achieved levels of success that many of us only dream of. Malcolm Gladwell interacted with them and discovered what makes them tick. He found out what their foundation was like and how we can transform ours to have a chance at joining this elite club. He uses an honest tone and explains his concepts clearly. Above are some of the lessons from his book, "Outliers: The Story of Success". You can learn them and grow into an outlier yourself.
You can get 'Outliers : the Story of Success' by Malcolm Gladwell here.
Photo Courtesy of Little, Brown and Company