Outliers - the story of success by Malcolm Gladwell - Audiobook of the week

Through many recommendations I finally bought this book and "read" it (if you know me, you'll know that I never read, I listen to audiobooks). It's a fantastic read by Malcolm Gladwell about a common (mis)conception about Outliers in our society. It opens your mind and especially for a young dad like me, helps shape your kid's future:
Outliers

There are more "outliers" than we think. And there can be even more.

I always felt that it can't be true that there are just a few geniuses out there and there can be more... that many didn't have the same opportunities in life as others... but Malcolm Gladwell gives even stronger and more factual based arguments for this gut feeling of mine.

If we changed small things in schooling system, we'd have more outliers...

Sometimes it's only about some small habits, small changes that will help us stimulate and inspire more children to be better. The common misconception is that we need to "spot" these geniuses early in life and shape them to become even better. Well, it's not that easy, here are some examples:

- Choosing small kids for hockey (and prestigious schools) - when they choose small kids to qualify as top hockey players or top students, they are being chosen by the same age group... and with age of 6, children born in January are significantly more developed than children born in November or December...

- 10,000 hours of training - some studies have shown, that you need 10,000 hours of training to really excel at something... and these kids spotted early get that training that makes them better and widens the gap between those who didn't get a chance early on. The author also quotes The Beatles, Bill Gates and other geniuses that had close to 10,000 hours of training in their fields (playing and programming respectively) before their initial success. 10K hours amounts to 10 years with 20 hours of training per week.

- Resources and time - some people just by sheer luck or status or situation had a chance to be exposed to things hardly anyone else had in their time and thus could develop their skills significantly better than anyone else.

- Generations and timing - Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Steve Ballmer (and some other IT gurus) are all born within half a year from each other - they were born in the same time and thus had the same opportunity to cease the computer ear surge in the 80s

- Parents - just having parents who stimulate you, ask you question, challenge you and want more from you helps you become an outlier. Studies have shown that the gap between kids' development widens when they have summer vacations. Some kids just play and don't do anything useful when others go to camps, learn new skills and constantly train their brain.

And there is more! The definition of "outlier" is just not this easy....

What the book has really shown me is that it's a lot more to be an outlier... and it helped me think about upbringing of my daughter and how to shape her to become an outlier - and that almost anyone can become one if the environment around them wants it... I highly recommend this read to see that many geniuses are not born... they are being shaped.

And what do you think?
I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of Nozbe.com - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Posted on Wednesday, July 6, 2011 (books,life)

TesTeq
Jul 7, 2011 07:32
Isn't Gladwell's book about you, Michael? Right attitude and training, right product, right time...
Al Pittampalli
Jul 7, 2011 16:20
Gladwell's thesis is brilliant here. I especially like his 10,000 hours argument. We want to believe that hard focused work pays off, and according to Gladwell it does.
Michael Sliwinski
Jul 8, 2011 06:57
I love the 10,000 hours rule and I can see it working with my peers, friends and myself, too. The more you work, the better you're at it and the more natural it comes to you... and with craft developed your new ideas "materialize" quicker.

@TesTeq - thanks for the compliment :-) It might be so, I've failed a lot before launching Nozbe so maybe this building-failing-trying-again dynamic helped me become a kind of outlier. I'd like to think so :-)

@Al - yes, as I mentioned above - hard work and craft-developing helps and seriously makes a difference.

Sverige
Jan 31, 2012 05:43
Gladwell almost gives a sense of hope for those who are average in intelligence. That is why I recommend this book; because of Gladwell's reasoning that success comes from opportunity, excess of hard work, some start of intelligence not necessarily the highest, and lastly support.
Michael Sliwinski
Feb 1, 2012 15:17
I also like Gladwell's reasoning that we all can be outliers. In the society that celebrates the "chosen ones" we could be all outliers (and our kids, too!) if we gave them enough education and stimulation, motivation to push forward! Thanks for your comment Sverige!