The Story of Success

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Outlier

Success is not exceptional or mysterious. It is grounded in a web of advantages and inheritances, some deserved, some not, some earned, some just plain lucky

A wonderful book written by Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers: The Story of Success explores the lives of extremely successful people whom he calls as Outliers. The dictionary meaning of the word outlier is – an extreme deviation from the mean. In this book, an outlier is someone whose achievements go beyond the reach of a normal human being in the society.

Gladwell examines some of the interesting factors which are the bed rock of a successful life. For example, the 10,000 hours rule – he claims that practicing an activity for 10,000 hours makes one master the skill sets required to perform that activity. He proves it through success story of the English rock band The Beatles, and also, Bill Gates who got access to a computer at the age of 13 and the rest is history.

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However, Gladwell states that the hard work or consistent practice is not the only factor, it is the plethora of other variables like one’s socio-cultural environment, status in society, access to resources etc. which help one climb the ladder of success. When brilliance meets a right kind of opportunity, success ensues.

The access to opportunities is largely dependent upon one’s position in the society. It can be understood through a phenomenon called The Mathhew Effect, a term coined by sociologist Robert K.Merton to show how the work done by lesser known scientists is over shadowed by the famous scientists even if the outcome of their research is similar. This phenomenon of “accumulated advantages” can be applied to social settings as well.

It is the rich who can provide right kind of opportunity and riches to their future generations which inherits and transfer the same to their next generation. It can be drawn from the alarming rate at which the gap between the rich and the poor is widening in the world.

Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule can be adopted only after one gets the opportunity which is relevant to one’s inclination towards a particular activity like singing, writing, sports etc. For the poor, honing such skills is difficult as the foremost priority in their lives is to make ends meet. In the absence of opportunities, the poor can not ensure a better future to his future generation even if he works hard all through his life.

Success, therefore, does not depend only upon a person’s mental capabilities. It is a privileged genius who leaves behind a legacy; and a poor, with same mental capacity but without opportunities, is forgotten in a jiffy.