Book Review of the Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
Born in Hampshire, England to a psychotherapist mother and a mathematical and engineering professor father, Malcolm Gladwell is a renowned author who has not only written several compelling books, but has also written several interesting articles for various newspapers and magazine firms (Shaywitz, 2008,). He is still working at the New Yorker as the editor. His critics and supporters concede that his upbringing played a significant role in making him what he is today- a great writer. One of Gladwell’s compelling literary pieces is the book Outlier, which was published by the Little Brown and Company in 2008. Due to its easy to understand writing and comprehensive analysis of the subject matter, the book debuted at number one on the bestseller lists for the Global Mail and New York Times for over eleven weeks. Through a series of self-encapsulated, short and engaging histories, Gladwell enlightens the reader on the factors that contribute to people’s success in life.
In this book, Gladwell examines and discusses the phenomena of innate individual talent, hard work, high achievement, and different fantastic stories of success that are often attributed to individuals’ tenacity . He clearly points out that success can only be achieved through hard work. In the first part, the author introduces the reader to renowned high achievers and various conditions that surround their success. He is able to bring out his arguments by incorporating the 10000 Hour Rule (Gladwell, 2011). Gladwell holds that for anyone to be a master in any field, be it music, programming, sports, and chase, he or she must the 10,000 Hour Rule in practice to achieve success.
The writer borrowed the term outlier from science and uses it to refer to men and women with special abilities that make them unique from the rest (Shaywitz, 2008). However, the book discusses that millions of these outliers are being ignored by the society and only few with opportunities and have the strength and presence of mind to seize the opportunities. On his website he says that he wrote the outliers out of frustration because he was surprised by people’s definition of success he termed people’s way of thinking about success as crude. Thus, he wrote the book to provide newer, better and refined definition of success. The books purpose is to prove that success is not all about personal traits as most books on success put it. Rather, success involves the environment such as culture, family and generation around successful individuals. However, he says that success is can be controlled by an individual despite the fact that it is influenced by his/ her environment. Therefore he is blending the two theories surrounding success. The book has very simple and easy to understand language and the writer avoided the jargon in the field of discussion. He believes too much in some astrology or stars and he concludes that peoples date of birth play a major role in their success either in business or any activity that they perform. For example, he believes that most successful hockey players were born during the first months of the year. He concludes the book from a personal view, which might make his conclusion very wrong as a result of perceptual error. Though, most critics are fine with that, I do not. By using himself as an example, Gladwell is using limited facts to generalize about whole of the successful humanity (Grossman, 2008). Though, he needs to know that through making people to believe or think in a particular way, it influences their way of life. For example, astrologers put it in the newspapers that if you were born on this date then you are likely to behave in this way (Flanagan, n.d). If people read this from the source that they trust most, the newspaper. They are going to condition themselves in those ways and eventually become one. This is because the mind sees what it wants. Moreover, whatever the mind believes and conceives it is what the mind achieves. If his theory is correct then what answers does he have to successful parents whose children are failures? Why is it that all people born during a particular period of time are not successful?
Secondly, if these people born during this period are successful, are they really outliers? This is because if everybody in the society can achieve something then that is not extraordinary but common therefore do they deserve to be called outliers? How is his book going to help those people who lack families, relatives or inheritance? Are these people doomed to fail or they will never be outliers? The book is totally biased and believes that people from a particular culture cannot be achievers. It is working from most stereotypes, which demonstrate how naive the writer is and such cases when believed globally might cost people from a given culture or group their fortune and opportunities. It is making other individuals to appear superior to others. Traits and skills are both learnt. Coming from a given culture has nothing to do with an individual’s success though one should not underestimate the fact that if individuals come from different cultural backgrounds and are not willing to drop some of their attitudes that affect their success, then, there is a probability that they may fail. He also insists that every successful man or woman always observe the 10,000 hour rule of practice (Grossman, 2008). The writer has shallow understanding of the subject and has mixed it with perceptual errors, which sent him generalizing ideas. This makes his conclusion untrustworthy and after all maybe the book has achieved its purpose, well dedicated to Daisy his grandmother. It was supposed to please the family members. The book is fit for entertaining the brain but not to encourage people to work on their success. For example, how will the book encourage those who it says that their culture does not allow them to excel at work places? Therefore, it is unfit material for global consumption.
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