I recently finished Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book, Outliers. I highly recommend it as an enjoyable and informative read.
In this book, Gladwell engagingly analyzes what it takes to become “successful,” which is a loaded term in and of itself. Many people often conflate success with happiness. Although these terms are related, we all know people who are successful in many respects but quite unhappy nonetheless. Also, we all know people who are very happy that have not necessarily climbed into the higher rungs of any corporate ladder.
Thus, it is important that we don’t confuse these two things.
- The book is filled with fascinating facts gathered from psychology, sociology, and economics on what contributes to a person’s being successful in life. For instance, when children are born can have a significant impact on how successful kids are in sports and academics. Simply put, children who are old for their grade have had more time to mature physically, socially, and intellectually. Thus, they tend to do better at sports and on many standardized tests – just because of the way in which they are clustered into grades based on birthday cutoff dates. Once identified as a strong student or athlete, these students are then shunted into various programs and given other opportunities that give them additional advantages over their peers.
- Gladwell also presents some fascinating facts about what it takes to become an expert and discusses the “10,000 Hour Rule,” which I will talk about in my next post. Suffices to say that effort matters a lot more than innate ability.
The many ideas in this book can help you be a better parent, teacher, and person by learning to focus more on effort than innate abilities. Focusing too much on immutable abilities as the key to success can stunt our growth (or that of our children) and, ironically, undermine the very success we are trying to foster.