Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Magic of 10,000: A Book Review of Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

I just put this book down.
It took just 3 days to finish - and that with just an hour or two of reading per night.

Gladwell develops a thesis that phenomenally successful people like Bill Gates are NOT, in fact, outliers as we'd like to think. In a neat and fascinating writing style, he lays forth anecdotal and statistical proof that success lies not necessarily in having high IQ or copious amounts of talent (although this helps), but that primarily, successful people made it "to the top" as a result of heritage/culture/community background PLUS opportunities presented AND seized in life.

The "magic number" = 10,000. An especially powerful proof pointing towards how opportunity MORE than innate talent creates geniuses and superstars, was that top performers in ANY arena (musicians, lawyers, computer programmers, writers, etc.) shared a common thread. ALL had logged MORE than 10,000 hours of "practice" in their given field before rising to stardom/significance. In fact, the next "rung" of experts in their field generally fell below the 8,000 hour mark as far as time spent honing their craft. Many of these superstars had toiled the 10,000+ hours in their field long BEFORE an amazing opportunity presented itself - therefore, when in the right place, at the right time (as the saying goes), they were also rightly PREPARED to take advantage of unique opportunities presented. An so, stars and geniuses and millionaires are born, er, NOT born, rather they are "steered" towards success by many, many small but significant happenstances along the way.

That being the case - not only was this a thought-provoking read (I already have 5 people lined up that I want to read this book, including one of my students who is currently reading Gladwell's previous book Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking ), but also I am curious to know how many hours I have spent honing my craft of writing...
And... wondering if I could log in 10,000 more hours in the next 10 years, how much further along I will be....

More details from this book will follow... until then, if you're interested, you can purchase the book through my link - it's my first attempt to create a more interactive and productive blog... help me along! :)

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