Outliers

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I recently finished reading Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell; a wonderful read!

As always, I was fascinated by the hidden aspects of long-held stereotypes or the mistaken “truths” we hold dear. Gladwell dissects these ideas in such an interesting fashion that it made me not want to stop reading.
Here are a couple of things that either popped out at me while I was reading or thoughts that developed as a result of reading this book.
1. Chapter 8: Rice Paddies and Math Tests, leads off with the following statement: “No one who can rise before dawn three hundred sixty days a year fails to make his family rich.”
I was put in my place when I read this as I don’t like to wake up at even a “normal” time. I like my sleep, but I do want to be successful and have much left over to leave my family. I cannot have both–sloth and success. What do I want more and what do I have to change?
2. Chapter 2: The 10,000 Hour Rule, quotes neurologist Daniel Levitin: “‘…ten thousand hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert–in anything.'”
Ten years is “roughly how long it takes to put in ten thousand hours of hard practice;” it is the “magic number of greatness.”
If I truly want to be known for something, desire and knack will only get me so far. Hard work, for roughly 10 years, is really the key to the results for which I long.
3. Throughout the book, Gladwell makes reference to “lucky breaks” that lend themselves to certain successes. For example, those that made it big in the computer industry happened to be in the exactly right time in history for their successes to be possible. And on a top list of the world’s most wealthy (past and present), a sizable percentage were Americans who hit-it-big in the latter half of the 19th century. Why? Because the United States experienced one of the greatest economic revolutions in her history.
When I think about personal success, it is important for me to keep in mind the reality for which I dream. I may receive a “lucky break” or a specific blessing, as I like to refer to it, but I may not. Therefore, it is important for me to do the things I love to do and whether I get my break/blessing or not, I will have lived a rich life.
4. Epilogue: A Jamaican Story–In this last portion of the book, Gladwell tells of a portion of his own personal history, that of his mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother.
Our histories are important. Though they don’t fully tell the story of our successes or lack of them, they are relevant. Who we are and what we become are not our stories alone. Nothing we do is ever only our own doing; many people and many stories converge upon us to help add depth and character to our lives.
May I never forget everyone who’s played a part in my life.
Furthermore, my life accounts for more than just my own. What I do with my life, benign or not, can possibly affect the successes of countless others I may never meet, particularly after I’ve left this earth. With this in mind, may I never forget to live with purpose and meaning so that those who come after me may have greater chances of success.

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