Have you ever read a successful person’s biography where their success is attributed to pure dumb luck? Probably not. Instead, we think people have earned their success through talent and hard work in success stories. We tend to ignore many other factors that influence a person’s success, most of which lies beyond that person’s control.
We usually place such high value on self-made achievements that we often ignore other factors. In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell wants to show us that to achieve great success, and you need more than talent and hard work. When people achieve great success, it’s mainly because of factors beyond their control.
Researchers found that one predictor of a student’s success in math wasn’t their IQ and wasn’t their schooling. It was their willingness to complete tasks carefully. One study had a questionnaire of about one hundred and twenty questions. For example, one question was, what’s your favorite color?
The students who rushed through and skipped questions along the way performed consistently worse on math exams than students who carefully completed the questionnaire. It leads to a famous question: Why are Asians so good at math? If you want to figure it out, you’ll have to wait till the end.
Outliers Book Summary
Malcolm Gladwell wrote outliers to convince his readers to agree with his particular claims. Chapter one is titled The Matthew Effect, and he provides a biblical quote to support the Matthew effect. Essentially, it pulls from the book of Matthew. Gladwell pulls from this idea and applies it to success. Also, he argues in this claim, like the person who is successful or deemed.
In the outliers book, the leading theory is 10,000 hours. It is Malcolm Gladwell’s popular theory. It’s about preparation and about ten thousand hours that make you talented. It’s also about the opportunity that you received at the same time. So it works with Matthew because it’s not working ten thousand hours. It’s like having the opportunity in these moments.
Chapters three, four, and five continue the sub-claim that success comes from opportunity, and three or four focus on genius. Gladwell essentially brings up the idea that we guess as a majority. We tend to correlate success with IQ. The higher your IQ, the more successful you are. If you are intelligent, that means you’re going to be successful. While he doesn’t dispel that, he says that IQ plays a part in success for many people.
He essentially brings us to the idea that the relationship between success and IQ only works up to the point that IQ has a threshold in terms of success. It doesn’t make a difference in how successful you will be. A person who has 180 will not be better than 150. It doesn’t matter at some point.
Once you’re there, you can still achieve success and become an outlier. He provides evidence through Lengen, various studies, and the colleges that have produced Pulitzer Prize winners. Then the Umesh lawyers determine who was successful and who wasn’t. So that was essentially chapter three.
In chapter four author focuses on geniuses. A high IQ does not mean that you are a successful person. It matters in terms of your practical intelligence if you also have that. Hee noticed that those with high IQs who were unsuccessful lacked this culture with practical intelligence. They lacked this background to learn practical intelligence, and finding practical intelligence is helpful.
There is a history regarding where you grew up, family background, culture, and were allowed to be taught practical intelligence. In Chapter Three, he follows up with Lincoln. He adds Oppenheimer and then talks about that. Finally, Chapter five ends with the three lessons of Jerusalem. Successful people become successful because of their humble origins, generation, culture, and family history. All gave them these unique opportunities that other people might not have received.
So he utilizes Joe Flom and other Jewish lawyers in New York City around the time that Joe Flom was. But the idea of being a Jewish minority at the time and how that became an opportunity. They did it when Joe Flom was born. When others were born, it was their demographic look. Their time, like that place, that time in history, led them to be able to ride the wave of what worked for them.
To summarize, our surroundings have a bigger influence than we think. Success is striving to accomplish your desires by choosing. Putting 10000 hours in it is what makes you an outlier. But deliberate practice is required to become outgoing.
Outliers Book Review
Practical intelligence is a skill that allows people to talk their way out of problems. It’s not something innate like your IQ. It’s something that needs to be taught and practiced. The author discusses geniuses, hard workers, and IQ in the book. Let’s learn this elaborately.
Chapter: The Matthew effect
Malcolm Gladwell starts the book by explaining that if you take many hockey players and look at their birthdays, there’s a pattern. A pattern appears that the top of the top, the best hockey players, are born in January, February, or March. He goes into analysis and discovers that this will explain it better.
If you’re born before December, you are in an earlier grade. But if you’re born after December, we’re born into the next. It is hard to explain, but it’s pretty cool once you understand it. He says those born at the beginning of the year were five, six, seven, eight, almost a year older than their counterparts. He says that those couple of extra months were viewed as talent. It made those players stand out.
Because of that, they got extra training, extra equipment, and extra gear, when in reality, their physical maturity was the thing that made them better hockey players. A stat said those born in later months throughout high school and college were more likely to attempt suicide. That’s because they weren’t as good at a skill. This is the first big principle. If you’re the oldest in your class, you will be selected and better or worse than the rest of your class.
Chapter: 10000-hour rule
The second principle is something called the 10000-hour rule. After analyzing chess grandmasters and other people who were good at their craft, they realized that it takes around 10000 hours to become the best. When you look into it, you recognize that some of the early works weren’t outstanding.
Such an author likes to view this: whenever you start something or start learning a new instrument or programming language, don’t expect to be good at it within the first 10, 20, or 50 hours. You have to put in the hours. You must work hard to create your craft and get good at it. This 10000-hour rule can be found in ice skaters, fiction writers, basketball players, and even master criminals.
We’re going to take, for example, Bill Gates. Now, he was extraordinary when it came to programming. But the secret behind this was that in high school, starting in the eighth grade. He had access to one of the world’s newest computers. He spent much time understanding how the programming language worked during his summers. The first seven months he was allowed to use it, he spent over 1500 hours, which works out to around eight hours a day for seven days a week.
For the next seven years, he practiced way past 10000 hours. This is why he is so noted. It helped him create Microsoft. The thousands of hours in particular time he put into it helped him become wealthy in his skill. They also found that the difference between wealthy and non-wealthy parents is that wealthy parents take their children and have them do stuff all the time. They’re always busy. So, If you want to get good at something, you must invest time.
Chapter: Trouble with geniuses & IQ
Now, principal number three was cool. Try to memorize the numbers ‘83467153907’ at a glance. Say them out loud or in your head for around 20 seconds. The author found that English language students could remember about 50 percent of them. Or they could remember the entire sequence about half of the time.
However, Chinese students can remember it almost every single time. It is because to say the numbers to subvocalize them in our throats, and there are more syllables. You cannot say these numbers as quickly as you could in Chinese. He realizes that generally, you have around two seconds of short-term memory to remember digits. Since the Chinese can say these numbers extremely fast, they remember more. Another little thing is our number system, the English number system.
In China, Japan and Korea, people do this more logically. Their language is set up a little differently by the age of five. American children are already a year behind their Asian counterparts. I mentioned at the beginning why Asians were generally the people of the Asian culture are better at math. So principle number three is that language is important.
Malcolm Gladwell does not deny innate talent but points to its limits. For instance, there’s a point at which your IQ no longer helps determine your success level. As long as you are smart enough, many other factors will determine your success.
For instance, one of them is how well do you navigate the social world? That factor, especially regarding dealing with authority figures, depends on your socioeconomic status. Poorer people respect authority figures, whereas middle-class and wealthy people have a stronger sense of entitlement and negotiate to get what they want.
Chapter: Importance of community
The author discusses a small town in Pennsylvania, Roseto, with a very low incidence of heart disease in the book. Doctors and scientists tracked what was happening because this was an outlier regarding this town’s health. It had nothing to do with their exercise, had nothing to do with their diet. But it was the community aspect. It was common for families to have three generations living in the same household and having dinner every night.
It turns out your community aspect and your relationships help you with physical and mental health. So if you’re looking to be successful, make sure never to forget your relationships. They sustained you during the tough times, and when you become successful, you have people to cheer you on.
Chapter: Rice paddies and math tests
In this chapter, the author explains what rice paddies are and how difficult they are to maintain that you must put into the work. He mentions the 10,000-hour rule you have to work at these rice paddies to grow the rice. He says that the culture is the Asian culture. To grow these rice paddies, they work hard.
He says that in the Western cultures, to get more of a yield, to get more corn, we have to expand our technology. But the Asian culture says we don’t necessarily need to expand our technology. We need to work harder. They found out that Rice workers put around 3000 hours a year in the hot sun.
It moves on to the main principle of principle number four, which is they have this test called the Temes test. Every four years, they give it to many countries, and basically, they balance the weights and see which country is good at math or which is good at science.
They found around 120 questions on this test, which is pretty extensive. You’re going to get tired by the end of it. They included a little questionnaire and a little survey to ask simple questions at the end. What’s your favorite color, or are you male or female? You didn’t have to put much thought into it. You had to try. They found a correlation between the averages of the countries. The questions answered on the questionnaire were the same as the math score.
They came up with the conclusion that mathematics isn’t an innate ability. It’s not something that you develop automatically. It’s an attitude that the harder you try, the better you will be at math.
Chapter: A Jamaican story
The last chapter of Outliers is all about Malcolm Gladwell’s own family. At first, he tells the story of his mother as if she was the single author of her success. Then, as he does throughout the book, he takes a closer look, and we see aspects of Jamaican culture that made her success possible.
The other people in her life fought hard and sacrificed to make her success possible and the lucky breaks. All of this is in addition to her hard work. But none of it would have been possible without the many factors contributing to her success. I never felt while reading outliers that it glorified the idea of success.
It is one of the most applicable parts of the book. You can work hard but never manufacture the unique experiences required to be an outlier. But you can look closely at the inherited legacies and be aware of how they influence how you act in the world.
Author: Malcolm Gladwell
Average Review: (4.1 out of 5, on Goodreads)
Category: Self-help, Business & Money, Best Nonfiction, Management & Leadership
Total pages: 304
Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
Best Sellers Rank: 164 in Books
Position 3 in Decision-Making & Problem Solving
Position 3 in Business Decision Making
Position 5 in Communication & Social Skills
This book helps you understand that success is not magic and special for people. But near the end of the book, he works to complicate the idea of success and asks questions about whether it’s always worth the work it requires.
Personal rating: 4.7/5
If you have a pretty clear idea of the thesis, I would say it’s still worth reading because his many examples are so fascinating. The research he brings in, the interviews he did, and the many examples he uses are always engaging. Even in a summary of the book, you can’t get into detail about the many different patterns of success that can better help us understand what it means to be an outlier.
It’s easy to be super passionate about something and not be good immediately in the early stages. You must remember that there will be a brief period where you’re not good at something, especially in the early goings. If something’s important to you, you put in the work you’re willing to put in that deliberate practice. Eventually, you’ll achieve success. Make sure to stick with it.
There’s a certain point that you read about everything where you’re good enough, and it doesn’t matter up above that point. It doesn’t factor into your success. You need to be smart enough.
With basketball, you reach a certain height, maybe six foot, six foot one. It doesn’t matter. For example, there’s no huge difference between a six-foot-five player and a six-foot eight-player. The point is in about everything. You need to be good enough and then start putting in your work.
The analogy says that the tallest tree in the forest came from a good seed, but that is not it in itself. It’s also due to the soil, your environment, and the amount of sunlight you have if you have trees blocking your sunlight.
Some of the most successful people on this planet were given opportunities that you’re not. But don’t focus on those. Focus on the things that you can’t control. Be with practical intelligence, develop communication skills, find mentors, read books, and watch videos. This can lead to your future success.
Learn more: 10 Main Points From Outliers Book
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