“Who we are cannot be separated from where we’re from.”
– Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers
As a British born Canadian Mennonite with a Jamaican mother, Malcolm Gladwell‘s story seems just as incredible as the stories and research he often rights about. Gladwell began his career as a journalist in 1984 after having failed to be accepted into graduate school followed by a failed attempt to enter into the advertisement industry, yet by 1996 Gladwell was righting for major newspapers such as The Washington Post. Though he often writes pieces for other publications, today Gladwell is a writer for The New Yorker, as well as a best selling author. Gladwell’s focus in his writing aims at linking academic research and incredible stories to explore ideas and present findings of things that often go unnoticed. Gladwell’s 2008 book Outliers (285 pages) falls perfectly into this category.
Outliers is a book that serves as an in depth look into the idea of success, an idea that Gladwell would argue is largely misunderstood. Gladwell uses a little less than 300 pages to pull back the curtain on the processes that produce success and just exactly what factors into all that. The books however is most known for one of these factors, an idea called the 10,000 hour rule that was first developed by K. Anders Ericcson, a psychologist from Florida State University. The general premise of the rule is that to become a “Great” in any field, you must first put in ten thousand hours of practice, a huge amount of hours that would take anyone years to reach. Examples of this rule range from The Beatles, to Bill Gates, to anyone playing in the NHL. The rule might be rough around the edges and has been updated by psychologist in the years after the publication of Outliers, but the central premise still holds to be true. Though the book offers a lot of information and may seem intimidating to some, all the information comes intertwined with a wide array of diverse and fascinating stories that will peek the interest of anyone who reads them.
Ultimately Outliers is a book that can prove transformative to the way you think and live. It is both a easy and a fun read which makes it a book I would recommend to all readers of all ages. Understanding the story of success might just be the key to achieving it in your own life.