Thursday, January 27, 2011

Outliers


This book is an excellent read for someone who has at some point in life been bewildered by their encounters with genius and logic defying excellence. This book is just the right concoction for solace if you have been one of those people who ever wondered if you – the paragon of mediocrity, can ever scale heights that have been witnessed by some prodigious people.

It will definitely be a comforting effect to know that these over-achievers have had nothing but gallons of luck along with regular mediocrity. This book has ample number of examples such as Bill Gates, Billy Joy, the Borgenichts, Oppenheimer and the hockey champs of Canada among many others. The author throws light on the invaluable opportunities that these people have been presented and also stresses on the importance of being at the right place at the right time with the right frame of mind.

The definition of meaningful work as deduced from the case of the Borgenichts was on the mark and makes the reader immediately apply their own life onto it and plug some gaps where they previously gasped for reasoning their underachievement.

The logic behind the rice paddies and the hardworking nature of the Chinese and their comparison with the Europeans was an eye-opener. The reasons for the Chinese supremacy in arithmetic were spot on and the application of this reason in KIPP (the concept schools established in Bronx, a poor under performing neighbourhood in the US) was an excellent example of a far sighted enterprise. The data (quantitative and qualitative) that the author has used are convincing and totally congruous. Did you know that there are umpteen examples in this book to prove that 10,000 hours of practice in any discipline is an essential part of succeeding at the Global level?

The author finally romps home with his own family tree and how his great grandparents and their parents came together amidst unbelievable circumstances to bring up the lineage that is of Malcolm Gladwell. Malcolm’s great granny was a slave in an African island who was married by an Irish estate owner (a rarity in societal hierarchy of that era). Malcolm’s mother got an impossible scholarship to study in UCL, London where she met her husband, father of Malcolm Gladwell.

On the whole this book is an excellent read with some startling facts that raised my eyebrows and gave enormous food for thought. I thought it ended rather abruptly and could have been much larger.

PS: It does give hope with numerous citations and logical reasoning