- Alisha Barnes
Ever wonder why some people just seem to be more successful at certain activities than others? Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell, seeks to discover what gives certain people an edge to success while others seem to be left behind. Gladwell looks at athletes, lawyers, major players in the computer business, and even pilots to determine what these people have in common that makes their successes less the result of being statistical outliers— possessing higher personal attributes--and more the result of when and where they were born. This book breaks down the fortune of society's major power players to show that sheer talent may not be the only thing that successful people have in common.
Gladwell writes that the most important elements to success are opportunities. Some people such as Bill Gates had the opportunity as teenagers to access computers freely and with great frequency at a time when many others were unable to do so. Therefore, the time in which he was born as well as the ability to practice and perfect his abilities may have led to his success. It also seems that there is a particular culture into which pilots are born that makes for a person who is better able to deal with the tasks of everyday flight. In the pilots’ case, birth location is of the essence. Gladwell also suggests that there is a perfect time for star athletes to be born that will give them an advantage over their peers. Additionally, Gladwell indicates that class status may be important as it can give people different outlooks on life, which can be beneficial to their success.
There are many other discussions, such as how did the Beatles become arguably one of the best bands in history? And, why do Asians seem to be better at math than other cultures? How come people with really high IQ scores aren't guaranteed to flourish?
Outliers does address the idea that some people seem just to be born with certain talents, however Gladwell emphasizes that in order to express these talents people have to be born into the right circumstances and have the necessary opportunities. He claims that it might not be the case that certain people are themselves outliers but rather that life gave them better opportunities for success than their less fortunate peers.