Outliers and Success

My sister Christina gave me Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell and it’s one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. I been “savoring” Outliers because it’s a fabulous read, it talks about cross cultural success (yeah!) and it shows how, as individuals and as a society, we have active roles to play in promoting more success stories.

I was away at a retreat this past weekend where I questioned my definition of success (more at a later post). Nevertheless, here are three key takeaways from Gladwell’s excellent book:

1) Success is a group project – Gladwell shows how outliers become outliers and people become successful as a result of being in the right place at the right time and taking advantage of various fortuitous circumstances. He talks about how we are “caught in the myths of the best and the brightest and the self-made that we think outliers spring naturally from earth.” Success is a group project because it’s not just up to the individual to triumph but an individual taking advantage of the various opportunities that present themselves. More opportunities = more success stories.

2) Culture is important – I’ve lived in Ecuador for more than 8 years and worked with many organizations across Latin America, US, Canada and Europe. Every so often I have the opportunity to tell people about the theories around High Power/Low Power Distance. It helps explain why where you are “from” sometimes impacts our communications, habits and decisions-making.

3) 10 000 hour rule – Experts become experts through practice. Roughly speaking, it takes 10 000 hours to become an expert. No magic here, just good old fashioned hard work!

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One thought on “Outliers and Success

  1. […] following my blog or tweets will know that I am a big fan of Malcolm Gladwell. Today I saw an excellent interview by Adam Grant of Wharton where he spoke to Gladwell for about […]

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