Outliers-The Story of Success, by Malcolm Gladwell, is a sociological, and psychologicalnonfiction book, which discusses success, and reasons as to why there are people eloquently more successful than others. Gladwell’s purpose of the book is explained to us by dividing the book into two parts, opportunity and legacy. Opportunity discusses how few people are blessed enough to be born between the months of January through March, and also includes the implication that those who are already successful will have additional opportunities to improve and become more successful. Gladwell explains this argument with something called the “Matthew Effect” after the New Testament verse in the Gospel of Matthew: “For unto everyone that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance. But from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath,” (Gladwell 30).
It is the best students who get the better teaching and the most attention. It is the older and bigger students who get coached more during practice. Moreover, Gladwell’s point is those who are successful are most likely to have bigger opportunities that lead to further success. The 10,000-hour rule proves the point that in order to become successful in a certain skill, one must have practiced that skill for at least 10,000 hours. Gladwell believes “People do not rise from nothing,” and many hours of hard work must be put in to achieve such a prestige talent (Gladwell 19).
In addition to the 10,000-hour rule, timing is also a major component that implies being in the right place at the right time, which brings Gladwell to discuss Bill Gates who was born during the time where programming and computer technology was emerging, therefore sparking his interest in computers, later bringing him to create Microsoft. However, Malcolm’s point is most people do not have the fortunate or luckycircumstances that allow them to pursue their passions in such dedicated time blocks. For people like Bill Gates, “their success was not just their own making. It was a product of the world in which they grew up” (Gladwell 67). He just so happened to be born in the right place at the right time. Another point Gladwell brings forth is the notion of one’s upbringing, race and ethnicitywhich has “beneficiaries of hidden advantages and extraordinary opportunities that allow people to learn and work hard .
..in ways others cannot” (Gladwell 19). The culture people belong to and the legacies that get passed down impact a person’s success. Cultural legacies are powerful forces that dig deep and far in a person’s life. They “..
.are an indelible part of who we are,” for they are a primary factor in one’s success (Gladwell 219). One of Gladwell’s lastpoints, is pursuing meaningful work will cause one to continue working with their sill and not give up.
Legacy is a collection of examples that support the idea: values are passed down from generation to generation, which may cause a certain group of people to be more persistent in a skill, or occupation. Fritz Rasmussen and I have been friends for almost two years now. We first met when he scored a spot on the varsity tennis team last year. I have seen Fritz excel not only in tennis, but in his academics.
Since his freshman year, he has been the valedictorian of the class of 2019. I asked Fritz on average how many hours a day he spends on homework, “About two to three per day, on average 15 per week” (Rasmussen). I asked him how many years he has spent studying this much and Fritz said he had only begun with the onset of high school. According to Gladwell, “ten thousand hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world class expert in anything” (Gladwell 40). Fritz stated that he most certainly has not amassed 10,000 hours.
I proceeded to ask Fritz whether or not he thought he was an outlier since he did not fit the 10,000 hour-rule. He responded to this question with “I would not considermyself an outlier with respect to academic achievement as I believe that this measure is subject to massive variability on account of the differences in successes and opportunities of my peers” (Rasmussen). If Fritz did not consider himself an outlier, maybe his success was based off of pure luck, as Gladwell also believed. I proposed the question if Gladwell’s argument, that success is based on luck, “do you think it is what has contributed to your success?” Fritz responded with “I argue that Gladwell overestimates the effects of these factors and that success is achieved more through successful work ethic, although they certainly play a part,” (Rasmussen). Along with the fact that Fritz has not completed his 10,000 hours, he also does not believe luck has everything to do with success. When describing his background and upbringing,he stated, “I believe the most compelling force of my upbringing is the unrelenting support and confidence I receive from my family due to the environment that they have created for me. The preparation that I have done is simply a willingness to accept their ways of parenting” (Rasmussen). For a boy like Fritz Rasmussen, Gladwell would have lots to say.
Gladwell would likely center his analysis around external factors such a timing and opportunity. He would likely contend Fritz’s situation is best viewed within the context of luck and other unmeasurable and inconsistent factors. The 10,000- hour rule is crucial because I have experienced the effect of lacking practice in a certain skill. I took piano lessons for about eight years, and at every practice, my instructor would compliment how my long fingers would make me an excellent pianist. With this in mind, I felt that in no time, I would excel but what held me back was my lack of practice.
The first few months I practice for hours on the weekends and even after school on the weekdays. For those few months, my instructor was incredibly proud of how fast I was improving, but then I lost my motivation, had less free time, and began practicing less and less. Before I knew it, I was practicing harder music with less skill. Had I known of the 10,000-hour rule, I would have practiced more and would probably be a phenomenal pianist today, but my lack of practice and motivation made me quit taking lessons. Gladwell states that “practice isn’t the things you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good,” (Gladwell 42).
Essentially, the topics Gladwell covered in this book include are, being at the right place at the right time, the 10,000-hour rule, upbringing, and pursuing a meaningful career. Although Gladwell has made excellent points in providing these to be major components of success, I do not agree with the idea of a particular upbringing will determine success. With this idea, Gladwell also includes that certain races and ethnicities also have advantages which cause them to be more successful but is not a given that a Caucasian student will also top the class, or a wealthier student with a strict upbringing will be the most successful. For example, Fritz had a perfectly normal upbringing. His parents never enrolled him in special classes or got him special tutors to get ahead in school. Fritz became persistent on his own. When he got to high school, he realized he wanted to strive to be the best, so he began studying very hard and put a lot of effort into each and every assignment.
With lack of motivation comes lack of success. If one is persistent, then they will reach success.