This book mixes obvious observations with interesting interpretations. It does not represent a major study, researched in depth. Malcolm Gladwell, author of “Outliers – The Story of Success” provides an assortment of anecdotal examples to substantiate his thesis that success largely comes from circumstance, not necessarily a high IQ. The author believes that opportunities emanate from strength and savvy; the strength to persevere and the savvy to recognize and utilize good fortune. An ability to analyze prospects helps; sometimes adversity becoming opportunity.
According to Gladwell, success relies more on culture and timing than industry. Examples illustrate how ethnicity impacts behavior. One case shows that culture, transplanted from overseas, is shown to be a stronger influence than the local environment. Apparently, social interaction reflects the influence of ancestral culture, carried on for hundreds of years. As Gladwell presents, cultural background must be consciously confronted to be superseded. Ethnic traditions even touch basic communication. Speaker or listener, transmitter or receiver, one’s particular orientation directs responsibility. Speech translates into action, dictated by a culture-created hierarchy.
Gladwell attempts to explain the reason behind Asian mathematical superiority. Fairly simplistic, the agricultural analogies seem unable to prove, but interesting. Whether in a rice paddy or a classroom, hard work aids success. However, the contention that exactly 10,000 practice hours leads to proficiency seems difficult to support.
The author stresses factors leading to success include birth date, parentage, opportunity, timing and the aforementioned 10,000 hours.
Relying more on example than explanation, “Outliers – The Story of Success” certainly is not a self-help book. It presents the interesting thesis, that circumstance greatly dictates achievement, and provides a small selection of supporting anecdotes. Gladwell’s latest book is thin regarding page count and serious research, but is enjoyable to read.