Book Review on Outliers – The Story of Success

Very excited to share the book review on Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell!

Book Review on Outliers - The Story of Success

The reason why I really resonated with this book, because it provides a typical narrative of success. When we look at Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Virat Kohli or Priyanka Chopra for that matter, the first thing that clicks in the mind is their crowing success! The series of achievements and work to their name is magnanimous. When I rock my daughter to sleep, singing lullabies, and talking to her about work, I often wondered how these people achieved such massive success and continue to raise the standards! Whether it is musician, an athlete, or a business executive one thing is for sure that they have really worked hard and then they got their lucky break and bam now they are at the zenith of success.  

By the virtue of this book, Outliers, I am presenting to you a sure short way to demystify being successful in life. What this book does is that it actually comprehends if people aspire to be successful then it is imperative that they go to a deeper level rather than just concentrating on the work ethics, ambitions, or IQ scores. Furthermore, one has to look at the things that we cannot always see or things that are not visible at the surface. For instance, the number of hours put in or the environments in which people grew up in or circumstances of where their family was located or even birthdays to really understand why people are successful. Outlier presents us with the wisdom of comprehending success and model some of the things these achievers perform to make them successful. In this book review, I have decoded some of the biggest ideas in the book that can help you to master your craft and be successful.

Idea Number 1 – The 10,000-Hour Rule Probably the biggest idea in this book that most people gush about is the 10,000-Hour rule. This rule is based on the primary research performed on the violinist. This research looked at the top violinist, top teachers focused on what makes some violinist world-class musicians. What is the defining factor behind this excellence – is it money, is it the instrument, or is it the skills they are born with. After the extensive analysis done on the study by Malcolm Gladwell, he distilled it to one thing – Practice. It all comes down to how much amount of hour one invests in practicing the skill.What I found most fascinating about this 10,000-hour rule and study is that they found three groups based on hours of practice one invest. Those who were good enough to be teachers had around 4,000 hours of practice. While those who were considered to be skilled at something had around 8,000 hours of practice. However, those who were the world-class we are taking people like selling out symphonies, forming the greatest people or greatest musicians out there. They had 10,000-hour of deliberate practice at least. That is the bare minimum!Well, we can further extrapolate it to other people as well like fiction writers like JK Rowling, professional athletes like Kobe Bryant, a motivational speaker like Tony Robbins and businessperson like Bill Gates. They all have this trend to put in at least 10,000 hours to become world-class at it. This 10,000-hour rule benchmark has become staple now for many to achieve mastery. If you want to be good at something, you have to put in the time and the work. In principle, success takes time, and achieving mastery at something demands hours and hours of practice. So don’t rush to the end without grinding yourself. If you want to be world-class at anything, you have to put in your 10,000 hours. So start today, know that you are not going to be perfect but if you keep striving at it and putting in the hours then you are going to get better results.

Idea Number 2 – Deliberate Practice This idea essentially builds on the first point of investing 10,000-hours in order to achieve mastery at something. However, one needs to be mindful of the fact that it is not just 10,000 hours but hours of dedicated practice. When we talk about people who are successful today because they were practicing their skills, building themselves, engaging in the activities, and getting feedback from their mentor to achieve better results. Indeed, you have to put in extra effort to make it deliberate practice. With a simple analogy of weightlifting, results are going to come in the last three reps.

Idea Number 3 – It’s not how good you are it’s about how good you want to be Simple fact is that Talent is over-rated. Knowing that you have to put in 10,000 hours of deliberate practice sets the theme around this. No one who is successful had it overnight or had just one big lucky break. It was the practice and hours put in that made them so. One of the phenomenon stories that Gladwin talks about is Bill Gates, this guy is worth 50 billion right now, one of the richest men in the world. Regardless to say, it is undeniable that he is successful especially in the monetary standards and known for one of the magnanimous companies of all times – Microsoft. However, no one talks about how he got there. He went dark years of his life when he just used to code and learn in the machine for 7 years of his life. Nearly for a decade, he did not take a single day off. Looking backward, now we all can say if he had quit then he would not have got to where he is now.

Book Review on Outliers - The Story of Success

Idea 4 – That success comes from a lot of different factors Let us argue this Idea with the one discussed above since this idea underlines the fact that success is also contingent on many external factors. Gladwell looks at the hockey player and their birth dates. While I was making an attempt to get my daughter to sleep at one hand and twist the page to next to comprehend the fact what do those two things have in common? Well, Gladwell researched that most of the elite hockey players were born in the month of January, February, and March. It intrigued me why did he connect the players with their birthdate since both seem to be completely unrelated. However, as per the book, it mentions the cut-off date of most schools is in December. Therefore, if you are born early in the year then you are 7 to 9 months older than the rest of the batch. This implies more physical strength and maturity, which are two fundamental factors in sports. So if you are developing faster and growing better then you get noticed more by the coaches as well as get more sponsorship because you perform better but in reality, you are physically stronger relative to others by 9 months. Sometimes, something as ambiguous as birthdate does play a difference. It sounds weird and sure it’s difficult to see the connection but it is remarkably true. I will explain it with the earlier example of Bill Gates. Let’s argue about Bill Gates, sure he had put in those 10,000 hours and he had worked hard but what he did had was the unique access to the computer at the time when nobody knew about it. I am guessing, he may also have guidance or some mentor who taught him how to use it or taught him the initial level of coding.

Idea 5 – Deeper Layer I would like to quote from the book, “It is only by asking where they are from that we can unravel the logic behind those who succeed and those who don’t”. This about the core of what makes successful people tick. If you are going to model someone, like a professional artist, athlete, speaker, or anyone for that matter, the crux is don’t just copy their results, don’t just try and copy what they have done. Try to go deeper into what makes them tick. What looks at the outside is not the real representation of what is inside, so if you go to that deeper layer, you have a much better chance of being successful.

Idea 6 – Success Story – The Beatles Growing up, English rock band The Beatles was my favourite band. It is very interesting to know the perspective of book on this band. The Beatles performed live in Hamburg, Germany over 1200 times from 1960 to 1964, which is way more than 10,000 hours. 1200 shows in 4-hour years are like 300 shows in one year, which is like an 82% chance on a night that they played shows. Level of mastery or obsession they had made them the greatest.

Book Review on Outliers - The Story of Success

Idea7 – One thing The basic premise is that those people who master something and put in 10,000 hours have chosen one thing and indulged themselves to excel in it. They have purposefully chosen one thing that they want to master. Success comes to those who obsess not diversify. Let’s go to Bill Gates, who said I am going to master coding, engineering, and public speaking all at the same time would have taken him longer to achieve Microsoft. Think about instead of focusing all that time in coding, in mastering the craft of operating system and language, he would be practicing other things. Ultimately, success comes to those who are able to master one thing before moving on to others. The question to you what is the one thing that you are going to choose, what is that one thing in which you want to devote your 10,000 hours?I found the book very inspiring and particularly useful at a personal level. Perhaps it is one of the books that decode success and helps us to understand it’s not magic or can be achieved only by few. It is totally worth reading, the research that Gladwell brings in, many interviews that he did along with examples that he uses are engaging and insightful.

References Gladwell, M. (2011). Outliers :the story of success. New York : Back Bay Books

One thought on “Book Review on Outliers – The Story of Success

  1. Rahul Singh Jadaun

    Wonderful read and well summarized Parul… in India we prefer to act as master of none but jack of all which leads in disaster specially when task is critical… at least we must try to become master of one…

    Liked by 1 person

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