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Summary of Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell Essay

Gladwell’s Outliers started with the introduction of the Roseto Mystery in which he presented the facts and findings of the physician, Stewart Wolf on how the Rosetans lived a life differently from Americans living in the city. Evidences and findings on how the Rosetans have a better life and little cases of heart diseases was not only due to the atmosphere of the place, the things they do, or the food they eat but simply the way Roseto is in which people greeted each other, go to church every day, and their strong family ties.

In the first chapter, The Matthew Effect, we may glean from it the idea or phenomenon of “the rich becomes richer while the poor becomes poorer”. He mentioned about observations on the birth dates of Canadian hockey players and the eligibility of children to participate in youth hockey leagues. This was deemed important as it was a factor that would determine a child’s strength and ability on hockey since they were able to start earlier and they are most likely to be the ones to belong in the elite team in the future. Despite of the fact that birth date is an important factor, an individual’s own skill is really the key to reach the top.

In the second chapter, The 10,000-Hour Rule, Gladwell presented that to become truly a master of something, an individual must undergo 10,000 hours of practice and mastery on a particular skill which is like doing 20 hours of work a week for 10 years. He cites examples like K. Anders Ericsson’s study at an elite Academy of Music in Berlin. The study was conducted on seeing the potential of music students by dividing them into three groups based on the potential they could see in them. According to the study, those students who belong in the elite/star group practiced more hours than the others that’s why by the age of twenty, these group of people will probably achieved mastery as they have totaled ten thousand hours of practice.

Gladwell also mentioned the success of Bill Joy as he was a genius, and devoted time on computers and programming. Other examples were how the Beatles achieved the 10,000 hours rule due to the number of concerts and performances that they did. He also mentioned how William Henry “Bill” Gates achieved the 10,000 hours rule and it was not only that. According to his interview with Gates, he paved his way to success not only because of his penchant for computers but also of the opportunities opened to him during his lifetime.

In the third and fourth chapter, The Trouble with Geniuses Parts 1 & 2, it was mentioned that being a genius is not enough to determine whether a person will truly be successful. He mentioned the story of Christopher Langan, a man with an IQ of 195 (higher than Einstein because he only had 150). Despite of Langan’s skills, he was not able to reach a high level of success because of the lack of opportunities and there is no one in his life to lead him to a higher level of success.

In the fifth chapter, The Three Lessons from Joe Flom, presented three lessons according to Flom on how a person could achieve success. Lesson 1: The Importance of Being Jewish presents how Jewish people were exposed to work at an early age especially when it comes to clothing that lead them to their success in business. Lesson 2: Demographic Luck shows us how location can determine your place e.g. a place rich with gold and minerals possible for putting up a mining industry vs. a place with little natural resources. Lesson 3: Garment Industry and Meaningful Work presents how hard work is definitely an important factor to success. Reflection

Looking at Gladwell’s observations, collection of ideas and stories from people about attaining success or being successful in life made me realize that one factor is not enough to be successful. According to the book, the date of birth, place of birth, how the individual was nurtured, social influences, interests, devotions, intellectual abilities, talents, etc are some of the many factors that determine one’s success

Going back to Frank Lynch’s article on Social Acceptance Reconsidered, I realized that some of his points like Pakikisama is one of the factors that could help one become successful. Looking back at Chris Langan’s story, he wasn’t able to attain a higher level of success because he didn’t have someone to help him which means he lacks the value of Pakikisama. Let’s look at this: most successful business people not only in the Philippines but in the whole world achieve success not only by themselves but because of their partners or people who backed them up. Bill Gates too is one example since he had Paul Allen in putting up Microsoft Corporation. It is because of the value of Pakikisama that people achieve success because at times, we cannot accomplish things by depending only on ourselves.

Thinking about the Philippines, I think that the ideals in the book, when applied can truly help our country towards development and prosperity. The Philippines is a country laden with a lot of natural resources which means that we possess the demographic luck. We also have some good universities that produce some of the brightest Filipinos that we have today. If only the Philippines would increase the way it encourages people and seek people’s potentials even at a young age, then we may be able to predict what we should mold our future human resources into so that by after 10 years on refining themselves on their chosen field, they could possibly achieve the 10,000 hours rule and achieve mastery on their field.


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