Malcom Gladwell’s “ Outliers ”. Summary by Daniel Toro. Part 1. Gladwell argues that outliers are a result of factors other than individual abilities or phenomenal skill.
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Summary by Daniel Toro
Gladwell argues that outliers are a result of factors other than individual abilities or phenomenal skill.
This factors can be determined by analyzing data for patterns, such as the life expectancies of different town in Italy and their stress-free lifestyle.
Success results when a single advantage paves the way to multiple other advantages, in a self replicating pattern.
Accumulative advantage explains why sport players are better than others. More important than skill, is the resources available to develop the skills.
Preparation takes a bigger responsibility for success than “innate talents.”
It takes a certain time for the brain to wire the circuits enough times and generate innate responses. This takes an estimated ten years of dedicated practice, regardless of skill.
It takes 10,000 hours of practice to achieve world-class expertise at some task. This translates into intensive practice for around 10 years.
MalcomGladwell questions the relationship between professional success and the IQ level of individuals to determine whether they are directly proportional. Although it seems like they should closely correlate, Gladwell argues that in high IQ levels “having additional IQ points doesn’t seem to translate into any measurable real-world advantage” (Chapter 3). This helps strengthen his point that beyond a certain level of intelligence, success is more dependent on personality and circumstances rather than intellectual capacity.
MalcomGladwell further explains that you only have to be good enough at specific abilities to become successful, making interpersonal and creative skills an important component to success. Alluding to a widely American audience, Gladwell explains that “a basketball player only has to be tall enough – and the same is true of intelligence. Intelligence has a threshold” (Chapter 3). His explanation is a an important supplement to the argument that a mix of skills is more important than a single proficiency because it questions our ability to predict success.
MalcomGladwell explains that practical intelligence is what differentiates intellectual geniuses from successful leaders. More than an a understanding of theory, Gladwell describes practical intelligence as “knowledge that helps you read situations correctly and get what you want” (Chapter 4). Thus we can conclude that high levels of IQ are only important once you have put yourself in an advantageous situation through practical intelligence.
MalcomGladwell presents the idea that unlike IQ, practical intelligence is learned. He elaborates on the previous idea by arguing that “the place where we seem to get these kinds of attitudes and skills is from our families” (Chapter 4). As a result, his theory supports the claim that kids from families of higher economic standing tend to achieve success more frequently than equally intelligent kids from poor families.
Through the story of a successful New York Lawyer, MalcomGladwell depicts other elements that are often necessary in the path of an outlier. The first of this elements is luck, for Joe Floms becomes successful for working in cases that “white Shoe” firms wouldn’t take. Later, his experience with these cases gives him an edge over firms the that rejected him. I agree with MalcomGladwell in that luck is a necessary component for success. However, luck is not only in term of job opportunities, but the luck of having the right person read your college application, or having the skills that someone else is currently looking for. Jame Simons, a prominent investor, expands the point on his lecture entitled “Mathematics, Common Sense and Good Luck: My Life and Careers.”
MalcomGladwell argues that success is also a result of demographic luck. He argues that those born in 1903-1911 suffered the Great Depression and the World War, greatly diminishing their chances of success. Although this might be true to some groups of people, unlike his other statements this cannot be treated as a generalization. There are no time periods where opportunities didn’t exist, even if they where unexpected and required entrepreneurial vision. Isn’t there much opportunity to begin a luctrative business during war, when the country is spending lots of money on equipment, transportation, supplies and advising, for example? Take Halliburton’s lucrative business building military bases during the Iraq War.
Galdwell argues that those born during The Great Depression were lucky, for they had less competition for education, jobs and general opportunities as they grew up. Although this is true to an extent, I think the advantage comes with other great disadvantages. For example, were their mentors as well prepared after going through such economic disaster? Was money being invested on educational/ scientific research? Maybe they had more access to the resources available, but I think those resources were of lower quality than those available during other periods of history. Nonetheless, outliers are defined by their generations. In that sense, Gladwell has a strong point.
The last reference to Joe Flom talks about the way individuals are brought up. As an example, MalcomGladwell talks about Jewish families in the garment industry. Having seen their parents toil for years, these kids grow up knowing that much is expected from them and that they must work hard to succeed. Eventually, most of them become lawyers and doctors. This time I agree with Gladwell, for I think that the context in which you are brought up shapes your personality. Going back to the argument Gladwell makes on practical intelligence, I think the example seen in parents is a way to nurture such intelligence. At first Gladwell defines practical intelligence as the ability to get what you want, but I think determination and hard work are as important as confidence when measuring practical intelligence.