I’ll say it at the top: I highly recommend Malcolm Gladwell’s newest book, Outliers.
Now let me tell you why.
1) What is a true outlier? The whole book is built on the premise that successful people are successful for a reason. It could be their family ethnicity. It could be where they were raised. It could be as simple as their birthday. (About half of the current players on the Detroit Red Wings were born before April.) Gladwell uses hockey teams as the basis that using a birthday as a imaginary line to segment players virtually eliminates half of the other hockey players from getting additional training to become a superstar.
2) The same goes with education. Gladwell uses examples of how birthdays arbitrarily put students in the wrong classes and talented programs when, how, at the age of ten, how can we truly know who is bound for educational success unless they are already scoring high in the IQ charts? Last week I started a great conversation with my best friend about Gladwell’s section on education and how much we both agreed on how to solve the education problem in the United States. (He and I are pretty different politically, but on this we could agree.)
3) Are you born with it? Would Bill Gates have created Microsoft had he not had hours upon hours of free computer terminal time or a mother’s group who paid for some of that time. What if he hadn’t grown up near one of the few high schools in the country that had a terminal in that time. Same goes for certain nationalities and even being born in a certain part of the world where attitudes towards work and dedication rub off into your personality.
These three points are very generic (mostly because I want you to read the book!) but more so because I just wanted to scratch an itch. I want you to start thinking about you and your success that you’ve had or success you’re dreaming of. Gladwell doesn’t make the argument that all success is born-into, or that you can’t get it. Quite the contrary. He forces us to first look at those situations where the stars simply aligned to help others become successful (i.e. Bill Gates) and the situations where the family built the success (i.e. Jewish lawyers working in New York City at the turn of the Century); then he takes us through situations where, when given a chance, people chase after success and are willing to give up almost everything for just that chance.
Are you an outlier? Were you born with it? Do you have an astoundingly high IQ? Were you born on the right side of the tracks?
No matter what, there are opportunities out there to help you along the way, you just have to want them. You just have to chase them. In my opinion, that is what will make you an outlier. Good luck!