Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

A brand new raw look at expertise. Outliers reveals what leads to ordinary people becoming top sales performers.

Outliers by Malcom Gladwell

As with the other Malcolm Gladwell books I have read, I thoroughly enjoyed Outliers.

Here are some of the ideas and facts that I found most interesting:

Past a certain level of competence, natural ability counts for nothing.

I have had many a debate on the subject of natural ability. For me, claiming that people are successful because of their natural ability is insulting. It denies the thousands of hours those people have invested in their success. Calling it natural ability is just an excuse people make for not trying. I have no doubt that a few people who achieve extraordinary success, do so due to luck and circumstance. It is inevitable in our somewhat random world that this will be the case. Yet the vast majority - more than 99% - achieve success by their own efforts.

Motivation, passion, desire, and necessity are essential for success.

So if you want to succeed, be sure you are doing something that inspires you, that will continue to inspire you for many years because most worthwhile things take many years to accomplish.

Expertise demands 10,000 hours of practice.

This is a fact that is thoroughly and comprehensively demonstrated as a truth in the Outliers book. To out it in the context of challenge, I have been studying Spanish for over four years at the time of writing. I started when I was 58. I spend about three hours a week on it. I have spent nearly a thousand hours on this obsession. I am still rubbish. I know a lot of Spanish words but struggle to understand Spanish spoken at normal speed and those who want to hear me speak Spanish, have to have a lot of patience. When I started, I thought I would be semi fluent by now. By the 10,000 hours rule, at my current rate, it will take me another twenty five years!

Air accident investigations offer important interpersonal communication skills lessons.

If you are curious about this, you will have to read the Outliers.

Adversity amplifies the consequences of small mistakes.

For those of you who watch team sports, replay in your mind the small mistakes that led to disasters for your favourite team. You can watch the flow and fortunes of a match swing back and fourth on the back of small mistakes.

Circumstantial understanding aids success.

It might seem obvious yet in the decades that I have been delivering training and fulfilling coaching assignments, it has always been an easy win to help participants recognise how much circumstantial information they were missing and to prompt them to acquire the missing knowledge.  

Asian children are better at math’s than western children because . . .

There is a rational and entirely logical explanation but I am not going to spoil it for you.

Altitude is a function of attitude rather than aptitude.

How high you fly is a function of how you think about your world rather than what you are good at. I have had this idea in my head forever yet Malcolm Gladwell raises it like a banner and nails it to the highest spire.

Outliers says your fortune is up to you, a little luck, the right circumstances, and your cultural background.

As Gary Player put it, "the more I practice, the luckier I get”. 

ISBN 979-1-846-14121-8

Review by Clive Miller


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