If you like The Tipping Point, try
In Outliers, Malcom Gladwell’s third book (after The Tipping Point and Blink), there are stories of successful people. But these are the back stories of success, an analysis of all the other things that lined up to allow successful people the chance to work their way to the top.
The book is split in two halves, Opportunity and Legacy. Opportunity breaks down the lucky chances people got, and how they came up later to give the successful person an edge they didn’t even know they had. “Extraordinary achievement is less about talent than it is about opportunity”. One of the first stories, about Canadian ice hockey players, outlines how the luck of being born closest to the deadline for age-class hockey gives the oldest, and thus largest players an advantage. When the all-star teams are chosen, the size difference between a 10 year-old born in January versus one born in November is noticeable, and the older boy gets chosen. This leads to more coaching, more practice, more matches, and so a year later, the skill difference between those chosen to play more is appreciable. As the years go on, the difference widens, and by the time they’re at the end of their teens, you get hockey teams made up of large percentages of players born in the first three months of the year. Each story in the book is backed up with some academic studies.
If you’ve ever tried to learn something, you know that the more you do it, the better you get at it. So then the stories move on to the opportunity of lots of practice. These two building blocks, the initial bits of luck (a birthday, access to a computer, other seemingly inconsequential facts) and the amount of time the successful person spends pursuing their goal, come back in many of the stories.
The Legacy half of the book take a look at heritage and the role it, too, plays in how people communicate and what their expectations are, leading to how well they succeed. The way your parents and grandparents did something shapes the way you’ll do it too.
Because the stories are so clear, it gets your mental juices flowing. I started thinking about my own personal success, goals I have and how the luck, hard work and advantages I have can play into that next thing I’m going to do. This book is a patient guide through ideas which I could use to increase the success in my own life.
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You Review is made possible by the following publishers: Penguin US; Penguin UK; HarperCollins US; Hachette US; Hachette UK; Simon & Schuster US, Random House US, Little, Brown UK, Hodder and Stoughton.
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