Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Book Review: Outliers: The Story of Success

We may look at intelligent people—and credit their intelligence for their success. We may look at wealthy people—and credit their financial savvy for their success. But there may be more to the story of success than meets the eye, according to author Malcolm Gladwell.

In Outliers—a statistical observation that is markedly different in value from the others of the sample (secondary definition)—Gladwell tells of amazing twists of fate and quirky facts that made the difference between failure and success for some people. Some fall within our control; some do not.

Gladwell opens the book with the story of a community that dies only of old age and reveals its secret. He tells of airline crashes we’ve all heard about in which the culture in which copilots were raised greatly contributed to the tragic event. In a chapter called “Rice Paddies and Math Tests” he confronts our school systems for failing to deliver the educational goods to our children. From hockey players to geniuses, Gladwell reveals startling statistics as to why they may succeed—or not. A lengthy section of “Notes” documents Gladwell’s sources.

I rarely read a book twice, but this one may get a second look. I was fascinated to realize how small things make a big difference. And what it might mean for my life. I heartily recommend it for a thought-provoking read.

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