Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell loves studies and statistics. He hunts down the lesser-known and bends them to his will - in a good way!

In this book, Gladwell takes on the myth of the self-made man (or woman). He treks down various roads: the roads of birth dates, birth years, cultural backgrounds, and especially the road of opportunities. He finds connections between these elements and the potential for success in different fields. He shows how in hockey and several other sports, the month of birth is critical to the person's access to special opportunities that can lead to success. He follows airline pilots in different countries and shows how the cultural background of each can affect the number of accidents involving the pilots.

He takes us to the life of 13-year-old Bill Gates and shows how Gates was uniquely positioned to reach the pinnacle of power he now has.

In essence, he shows us how individual success is actually the success of a community, of circumstance, of the luck of birth far more than it is of a person simply working hard - but notes that working hard is always at the heart of it nevertheless.

What's more important is that when we understand these elements we can effect changes so that these opportunities are available to a greater number of persons. We might even find hints here for the raising of our children.

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