Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

My very first post on Digital Settler, an online journal where I document my journey in Marketing or just talk about different hobbies, like watches, working out, geopolitics (especially Middle East) or just taking long walks by myself, contemplating. I know, walking by myself sounds weird for many people, but it’s my way of connecting with myself, you know what I mean?

This very first post it’s not about me though, it is a review of one of my favorite books I read in a while. We all talk often about Books that changed our lives in some sort of way, made us a better person or just gave us one of those moments of “wow”. Well, this Book gave me all of the above, honestly. I even bought it and gave it as a present for friends and family.

Let’s get down to business, not business as usual because it is April 2020 and Covid-19 made us buy trucks of toilet paper and lock ourselves in our houses, so no, normal is different now.

The Book’s called Outliers : The Story of Success written by Malcolm Gladwell. 

What is it about and why I am so impressed by it?

The Book is about success, especially achieving high success in your career. The thing or concept better said,  we all want to achieve in life, either financially, or having a big family, starting a Business and so on. I don’t recall meeting someone so far in my life who does not want to be successful in some way.

You see, the thing with success, I think it’s a vague concept, from my point of view. Lots of people think money equals success, I was actually even debating this with a South African friend I was working in US with. And I quote him: “I’d rather be sad with my  pockets full and driving a nice car…”. It is pretty clear that for him, success means having a very good financial situation. Another friend I was debating with said: “for me, success means having a balance between work, health and family”.

So, success is different for each one of us, and I have a feeling that lots of us can’t even define what success means for us, or confuse it with happiness. As a personal note, I think that a lot of our problems in life are born here, in defining success. Maybe at some point in life, when we were young, we defined success as our happiness and worked 80 hours a week just to realize later on in life that we achieved a certain status professionally and financially but we don’t have kids or we lost all of our good friends? That’s why I think life is tricky, I have a personal belief that life is made of thin lines, we have to be very careful not to pass them, sometimes they lead to poor choices. Someone told me that poor choices can be a very good teacher, which I agree with, but sometimes, we wake up too late. See how many variables? Thin lines.

Success is different for each one of us, you have to define it first and then to craft it the same way you craft your future. We define our own journey through life and if you ask me I strongly think we create our lives, that is why I always try to be present, to do the things that will shape my future. I will talk about what success means to me right now, when I am 27, in a different post.

The author supports his thesis with solid examples ranging from why the majority of the Canadian Hockey players are born in the very first few months of the calendar year, what contributed to Bill Gates’s huge wealth and influence, how the Beatles actually became the Beatles and he even approaches top lawyers from Wall Street.

He also studies the situation of two very intelligent people. Robert Oppenheimer and Christopher Langan and how did they ended up in such different situations despite both of them being knows as very intelligent. In order to understand success, especially high success in your career we have to analyze all the factors involved. Accordingly to the author, it is a combination of where and when you were born, properly parenting, life circumstances, a touch of the good old pal called luck, hard work (the 10.000 hours rule) and even more, in some cases. If you ask me, personally, I think it is a slap in the face of the concept “People rise from nothing” which is sometimes so overrated in our culture. We are often bombarded with these sayings either from our parents, unintentionally, but mostly from the Self Development Culture: “You can be anything, you can achieve everything” type of mentality which, again, if you ask me, it does more damage than good. To back up these statements, these types of people are brought to the table and put on a pedestal. So obviously, the next question that pops up in our mind is “If he achieved so much from nothing, I am going to achieve it too, right?” Well mostly no, unless if you meet some or all of the criteria mentioned by Malcolm Gladwell.

I have to admit it though, when I finished the book I had a mixed feeling. I was convinced of its value, but it made me analyze my own version of success. I had to admit it, I was struck by the Self Development concepts as well, so maybe somewhere in my mind I still had a hidden thought or desire that I will create something great some day, or become someone great. After I read the book, I was not so sure about that. I was not even sure I wanted that. My mind quickly shifted though and started wondering myself what can I apply in my life, what valuable idea could I bring closer to me in order to achieve more. Maybe I will never achieve that kind of success (most probably not) but I know for sure I will achieve some sort of it.

You can read the book and see how much can you implement in your life.

Hopefully, it will serve you well.

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