I’m a big fan of Malcolm Gladwell’s books, and over the weekend I read Outliers. I recommend it highly. The premise of Outliers is that those whom we consider amazing outliers –- famous athletes, successful business leaders, great musicians — whether the best Canadian hockey players, Bill Gates, or the Beatles –- owe their success not simply to their innate talent or genius, but to a confluence of luck and events that together pave the way for their eventual rise.
Essentially, we become masters when we’ve put in the time –- estimated at 10,000 hours for mastery of just about anything –- but that time comes not simply from our personal will to succeed, but from opportunities and possibilities that arise because of the most arbitrary of circumstances.
What is so wonderful to me about Outliers is that it dismantles the mythology of the “self-made man” while placing agency in a complex web we’re so unused to examining. It is a systems book, meaning it uncovers how certain systems facilitate (or block) the ability of people to succeed.
For me the book begins a deeper discussion, one I hope Malcolm Gladwell will address in a future book, that examines the systems we need to transform and create in order to enable all of us to live in ways that are meaningful, healthy, productive, and contributory.
Author of Most Good, Least Harm
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Filed under: books, changemakers, Cultural Issues, resources, systemic change, third side thinking | Tagged: books, coincidence, genius, luck, Malcom Gladwell, mastery, outliers, success, systemic change | Comments Off