Par Malcolm Gladwell
Malcolm Gladwell is the writer of ‘Tipping Point’ and ‘Blink’. His latest book, ‘Outliers’, looks at the story of success – why some people are more successful than others. An outlier here is an exceptional person who stands outside the usual range of human achievement. They don’t fit the norm, for example due to their intelligence, creativity, money-making success and so on.
Gladwell acknowledges the part genetics plays in these successes. Some people are born smart and can program computers relatively easily; others are born tall and athletic and do well at basketball. But not every able person rises to become a Bill Gates or Michael Jordan.
In answering why such people become successful, Gladwell looks beyond genetic inheritance, and looks at other factors such as when they were born, their upbringing, their family background and other chance occurrences that made it possible for their natural talent to be recognized and nurtured.
In discussing The Beatles, he recognizes that they were gifted songwriters and good musicians but also emphasizes their thousands of hours playing live in Hamburg which helped shape them into the top band they later became. In a number of other fields e.g. law, business and sport Gladwell discusses how very successful people share similar family backgrounds, upbringings and formative experiences. It is these, alongside the natural talent many outliers have, that make the difference.
Gladwell reminds us that it’s common for us to put Mozart’s, Jobs’s and Lennon’s success down to their innate natural brilliance while the external factors that allow these natural talents to be noticed and to flourish are overlooked. He mentions, for instance, how putting in around 10,000 hours of practice in one’s field is generally needed to reach the pinnacle of one’s potential.