Thursday, November 25, 2010


Have you ever met anyone who always got a fair share of life? Someone whom you admire, or even envy, for the many great achievements that came their way? Or those who always get the better half of things? And, have you ever wondered, how did they do it? What makes them become what they're now?

These are the things that were being discussed in Outliers, which was written by Malcolm Gladwell. He pointed out that many successful people today, got where they are now, not really because they're smart or have that special capabilities, but rather they were given the opportunities. In other words, they happened to be at the right place at the right time.  

Of course, to qualify one has to have a certain level of intelligence or skill, but beyond that, what makes a successful person an outlier, depends mostly on the opportunities that were given to him, and how well he made use of it. For one, the environment where he came from plays a very important part. If he's from a rich family, his parents could afford to send him for extra classes to further polish up his skills, and thus trained him into a professional. Or, if he's poor, but were given the opportunities to spend at least 10,000 hours of practice on a certain task that he's interested in, he could master that skill and excel from the rest. That's how Mozart, or even Bill Gates got to where they were today. Another example would be if he's born at the right time, he would have the opportunity to participate in the more interesting things in life. The example given were those born at the beginning of the year were normally selected to be the team player (e.g hockey), because the cutoff date was in Dec, so naturally those born earlier in the year had the advantage of having a bigger built, and hence perform better. Naturally, they would be sent for more trainings (where the 10,000 hours rule came in), and further perfect their skills.

Indirectly, all these point to a fact that success could be attributed by many factors combined, and interestingly, it can be linked to our backgrounds, our environments, and how we decided to position ourselves in them. That's why, this gives us a new hope too, because we can be outliers too (or grow our children to be one), after we understand all the factors needed.

Well, I have not finished reading the book yet, but after reading the synopsis from here, I guess this basically summarized it all. It's also interesting to note that mostly successful people became what they were today because they have got help along the way. This reminds me about the story of the tortoise on the lamp post, from my parish priest during one of his sermons. The tortoise didn't get to the lamp post on its own, rather, it happened to be at the right place, at the right time, where someone picked it up and placed it there. So, we have to be grateful to the people in our lives, because without them, we'll not be where we're now. Not all those who has work extra hard made it after all. If we didn't get help along the way, would we still be here today? It's something for us to ponder...

Yes, indeed, as how Gladwell puts it: - No one, not rock stars, not professional athletes, not software billionaires, and not even geniuses - ever makes it alone.


HuiHui said...

i love this book as well. i like his 10,000-hour rule.

Pet said...

So true about outliers.. but we do what we can for our children. I know you will as well.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family! Enjoy!!

ablogaway said...

Wishing you a blessed Christmas and a great 2011 as well, Pet. Have a rocking time with your family ya :)


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