Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

The main concept of Outliers is that people are largely a product of their environment. The first example given is that of professional hockey players. The more successful players are likely to be born near the beginning of the year. The reason being is that they are grouped by the year they are born so the older kids are naturally more likely to be better and therefore get more attention and practice. The extra attention and practice builds upon itself. These four sentences take many pages in the book and the point is beaten to death. It is an interesting point, no less. The book builds on this point stating that to be really great at anything it is primarily practice and not talent. The number Mr. Gladwell comes up with is 10,000 hours of diligent practice to be great at just about anything. The Beatles it turns out spent several years playing in environments where they were required to play for many hours straight every day of the week. They went from being modest performers to being great performers. The book goes on to make interesting points regarding cultural backgrounds and many other examples to support the impact of environment on an individual’s behavior and success.

I thought Outliers had some interesting material however it seemed to over emphasize the importance of environment. Clearly environment is an important factor to success. It is no coincidence that there are so many successful people in America – It is an environment that allows individuals to forge out and become successful. However, often when you look at successful people you will see that they overcame many obstacles and usually through pure perseverance and passion not because of their environment.

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