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Outliers: The Story of Success

Outliers by Malcolm GladwellAs I was waiting for my flight yesterday, I remembered the two things I forgot – my sport jacket and one of the books in my to be read pile.

Luckily, the store by my gate had a reasonable book selection and Outliers: The Story to Success, by Malcolm Gladwell, was there. I’ve been a huge fan of Malcolm Gladwell – both in his New Yorker articles and his books. On Gladwell, Fast Company writes:

No one in recent memory has slipped into the role of business thought leader as gracefully or influentially as Gladwell. Soon after his first book, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (Little, Brown, 2000), fell into America’s palms, Gladwell made the leap from generalist staff writer at The New Yorker to marketing god.

Outliers isn’t about marketing, though. It’s about success. Malcolm Gladwell is an amazing story writer – and he shares some incredible, unique, stories of some abnormalities in the histories of those who succeed. The book points to situations where conditions simply lined up perfectly for success, questions the luck involved, and supports hard work – specifically – many (10,000) hours can lead most people to expertise.

Some of the unique stories… why are professional hockey players overwhelmingly born in the first months of the year? Why are Asians great at math? How does IQ relate to success? Why are Southerners quick to fight? How did ethnicity play such a huge role in the high number of Korean airline crashes years ago? How are modern schooling methods changing our childrens’ chances of success?

The moral of the book is a great one. We can influence people’s success by changing the environment where they live, work and play. Gladwell provides his own family as a great example… speaking to the sacrifices that individuals in his family’s life helped and forever changed the future and the success of Gladwell himself.

I love books that challenge logic and the status quo. This is definitely my favorite Gladwell piece. I demolished this book and now I need to find something to read on the way home!

7 Comments

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    I also very much enjoyed Outliers. The point of the book was that it is not only effort alone that makes one amazingly successful, but many times it is a confluence of the right set of circumstances and timing that must be part of the equation as well. However, I also found myself thinking that part of what Gladwell was doing was documenting examples of the sovereignty of God and how His unseen hand is at work in the events of this world. Scripture speaks of how He [God] both raises up and tears down kings and kingdoms and we don’t necessarily recognize the chain of events to that point.

    On a more practical note, it causes me to think about when my youngest should start school. 😉

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      Wow – Curt! Yes, it’s easy to forget that ‘we are not in charge’. WIth free will, though, I think God gives us opportunities every day to help those around us. We become one of the circumstances that can lead others to success. The question is whether or not we’re opening ourselves up to truly help one another succeed.

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        Doug,

        You are right on my friend. After all, we are saved not only because God loves us, but to do good works in honor and gratitude to Him.

        The other thing that comes to mind is that the successful life, as the world measures it, may not truly be successful. After all, there aren’t any hearses with luggage racks. 🙂

        Take care, my friend.

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    I loved this book as well. Especially since my older son plays soccer and sits just 15 days past the cutoff date making him one of the oldest players on every team he plays on.

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