Born Or Developed? The Code of Outliers Deciphered

Who are outliers and what makes them so special? To begin with, a dictionary based definition of outliers would be something that is classified as different or away from the rest or main/related body however in our article we use outliers to represent people who are not merely intellectual and exceptional but also the ‘best, brightest and most successful’.

An outlier may be someone like Bill Gates (of Microsoft fame) or Steve Jobs (Apple), who are so skilled and remarkable in their area of expertise, that they define their own category of success.

‘Outliers’ by Malcolm Gladwell highlights some stunning revelations on what makes high-achievers different from the rest. The reason why I chose to mention Gladwell’s book in this context is because he is bestowed with the gift of making complex seem simple- which means he has an ability to present simple, common-sense oriented explanations for seemingly complex ‘mysteries’.

A simple answer according to him is we pay too much attention to what high achievers are like and too little consideration to their backgrounds: where are they from? Their upbringing, families, experiences and culture- all of which play a crucial part in making them who they are: extraordinary people!

We cannot simply accredit the idea of success to an individual’s merit and we simply cannot ignore the role the rules of the society and factors of the world we grow up in play.

What’s the Main Takeaway?

For people who truly become successful and become experts in their fields- there is a series of lucky events, rare opportunities and other factors which go beyond one’s control which contribute to their accomplishment. Extraordinary success goes beyond having innate talent. According to the book:

Once You Cross A Certain Skill Threshold- Your Abilities Won’t Help You:

Gladwell looked at law school students and their performance. Some law schools lowered their admission requirements for students belonging to racial minorities and even though these students perform below their non-minority peers both before and during school; this difference vanishes as soon as they graduate.

These students end up getting paid at a similar level as their peers and make same value contributions – but we must question why? This is because after reaching a certain level of technical/skill based expertise, other factors like one’s social skills, networking abilities, opportunities that become available become valuable and start influencing career.

Timing Of When You Are Born In Terms Of Month Matters:

Gladwell was able to research and conclude that professional Canadian hockey players who end up in the elite club (NHL) are born during first half of the year. Those born from Jan-Mar are most successful and the percentage of success drops for players born towards tail end of the year.

In sports particularly, timing of birth matters because how old are you compared to your peers can give you a professional advantage/disadvantage. For most sports clubs and youth teams- cut off deadline is January 1st which means kids born in December have to compete with children who are at least an year older than them. This does impact success because it affects one’s strength and speed.

Family Roots, Race/Ethnicity And Cultural Background Matter:

For example Asians are good at mathematics and this is accredited to their cultural roots. Generally, Asians inculcate a habit of doing math mentally in their children from a young age so their children while learning to count also learn how to perform functions like addition and subtraction from adolescence.

Moreover, traditional Asian culture stems from rice farming which involves hard work, patience, precision and discipline. On the contrary, Europeans would give up on difficult math questions more easily compared to their Asian peers because neither math nor discipline is a part of their cultural legacy.

The Golden “10,000” Hour Rule:

10,000 hour rule explains to become world-class at anything one must invest 10,000 hours of practice mastering that skill- investing this effort represents meaningful hard work which is one of the critical factors in one’s success.

For instance, Bill Gates had already completed 10,000 hours of practicing and enhancing his programming skills before he hit his twenties.

Our Key Insights:

Clearly, Malcolm Gladwell is an outlier himself- he has established himself as an extraordinary journalist in a buzzing city like New York and he gets heavily rewarded for it but he was not born a great journalist so how did he become so successful?

He needed to have support of his parents who encouraged him to negotiate well and have conversations with authority figures as an equal- many rich families practice it but poor families don’t. Similarly, he has to spend hours perfecting his writing and reporting style just like how Beatles had spent 10,000 hours practicing to play together before they became a hit.

This simply was not enough though, he was ‘lucky’ when his family chose to move to America at a time that they did, lucky when his bosses let him pursue his interests and lucky to have been writing in a chatty prose while big ideologies cluttered the media space post 20th century collapse and people were looking for simplistic views.

Code of outliers cannot be cracked with mere hard work and innate talent, it takes more than that to become one- luck, meaningful hard work and random facts like timing of your birth can influence how successful will you become and the opportunities that come your way.

We must be mindful of seizing opportunities as they present themselves and realize and accept that there is no shortcut to mastering a skill than investing the hours required.

Quality of upbringing and one’s cultural legacy makes a difference. These factors not only influence the opportunities but also impact IQ, core nature and mindset of the child and become key determinants of future success. We must recognize if we see any real purpose to the work we are doing? If we are unable to see it, it’s unlikely that we will work hard and invest effort.

According to us, Gladwell’s premise of accrediting conditions and circumstances surrounding our lives as influencing factors in determining our level of success rather than our mere potential- is a thought worth considering.

He has citied various case based references and used famous personalities like Bill Gates, Mozart and Beatles to explain his view point throughout the book. We feel it’s a challenging view on defining nature of success in our society; give it a read and share your thoughts in the comments section below.


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Born Or Developed? The Code of Outliers Deciphered

Who are outliers and what makes them so special? To begin with, a dictionary based definition of outliers would be something that is classified as different or away from the rest or main/related body however in our article we use outliers to represent people who are not merely intellectual and exceptional but also the ‘best, brightest and most successful’.

An outlier may be someone like Bill Gates (of Microsoft fame) or Steve Jobs (Apple), who are so skilled and remarkable in their area of expertise, that they define their own category of success.

‘Outliers’ by Malcolm Gladwell highlights some stunning revelations on what makes high-achievers different from the rest. The reason why I chose to mention Gladwell’s book in this context is because he is bestowed with the gift of making complex seem simple- which means he has an ability to present simple, common-sense oriented explanations for seemingly complex ‘mysteries’.

A simple answer according to him is we pay too much attention to what high achievers are like and too little consideration to their backgrounds: where are they from? Their upbringing, families, experiences and culture- all of which play a crucial part in making them who they are: extraordinary people!

We cannot simply accredit the idea of success to an individual’s merit and we simply cannot ignore the role the rules of the society and factors of the world we grow up in play.

What’s the Main Takeaway?

For people who truly become successful and become experts in their fields- there is a series of lucky events, rare opportunities and other factors which go beyond one’s control which contribute to their accomplishment. Extraordinary success goes beyond having innate talent. According to the book:

Once You Cross A Certain Skill Threshold- Your Abilities Won’t Help You:

Gladwell looked at law school students and their performance. Some law schools lowered their admission requirements for students belonging to racial minorities and even though these students perform below their non-minority peers both before and during school; this difference vanishes as soon as they graduate.

These students end up getting paid at a similar level as their peers and make same value contributions – but we must question why? This is because after reaching a certain level of technical/skill based expertise, other factors like one’s social skills, networking abilities, opportunities that become available become valuable and start influencing career.

Timing Of When You Are Born In Terms Of Month Matters:

Gladwell was able to research and conclude that professional Canadian hockey players who end up in the elite club (NHL) are born during first half of the year. Those born from Jan-Mar are most successful and the percentage of success drops for players born towards tail end of the year.

In sports particularly, timing of birth matters because how old are you compared to your peers can give you a professional advantage/disadvantage. For most sports clubs and youth teams- cut off deadline is January 1st which means kids born in December have to compete with children who are at least an year older than them. This does impact success because it affects one’s strength and speed.

Family Roots, Race/Ethnicity And Cultural Background Matter:

For example Asians are good at mathematics and this is accredited to their cultural roots. Generally, Asians inculcate a habit of doing math mentally in their children from a young age so their children while learning to count also learn how to perform functions like addition and subtraction from adolescence.

Moreover, traditional Asian culture stems from rice farming which involves hard work, patience, precision and discipline. On the contrary, Europeans would give up on difficult math questions more easily compared to their Asian peers because neither math nor discipline is a part of their cultural legacy.

The Golden “10,000” Hour Rule:

10,000 hour rule explains to become world-class at anything one must invest 10,000 hours of practice mastering that skill- investing this effort represents meaningful hard work which is one of the critical factors in one’s success.

For instance, Bill Gates had already completed 10,000 hours of practicing and enhancing his programming skills before he hit his twenties.

Our Key Insights:

Clearly, Malcolm Gladwell is an outlier himself- he has established himself as an extraordinary journalist in a buzzing city like New York and he gets heavily rewarded for it but he was not born a great journalist so how did he become so successful?

He needed to have support of his parents who encouraged him to negotiate well and have conversations with authority figures as an equal- many rich families practice it but poor families don’t. Similarly, he has to spend hours perfecting his writing and reporting style just like how Beatles had spent 10,000 hours practicing to play together before they became a hit.

This simply was not enough though, he was ‘lucky’ when his family chose to move to America at a time that they did, lucky when his bosses let him pursue his interests and lucky to have been writing in a chatty prose while big ideologies cluttered the media space post 20th century collapse and people were looking for simplistic views.

Code of outliers cannot be cracked with mere hard work and innate talent, it takes more than that to become one- luck, meaningful hard work and random facts like timing of your birth can influence how successful will you become and the opportunities that come your way.

We must be mindful of seizing opportunities as they present themselves and realize and accept that there is no shortcut to mastering a skill than investing the hours required.

Quality of upbringing and one’s cultural legacy makes a difference. These factors not only influence the opportunities but also impact IQ, core nature and mindset of the child and become key determinants of future success. We must recognize if we see any real purpose to the work we are doing? If we are unable to see it, it’s unlikely that we will work hard and invest effort.

According to us, Gladwell’s premise of accrediting conditions and circumstances surrounding our lives as influencing factors in determining our level of success rather than our mere potential- is a thought worth considering.

He has citied various case based references and used famous personalities like Bill Gates, Mozart and Beatles to explain his view point throughout the book. We feel it’s a challenging view on defining nature of success in our society; give it a read and share your thoughts in the comments section below.


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