The Great Practice Myth: Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell Book Review

Most people believe people possess an innate talent and that is why they are successful. Malcolm Gladwell contradicts that belief in his book Outliers when he tells his audience that success is created through opportunities and deliberate practice. Gladwell first message for his readers is that our surroundings have an enormous impact than we think. He starts with a Canadian hockey player on how he was found by a talent scout and throughout his journey to the top he was successful and embedded a thought that it is not really how well he performed and his individual merit that lead him to success it was having the extraordinary opportunities and unseen advantages that gave him the success.

He shows this perspective through players in popular youth sports in countries like hockey in Canada where players that have birthdays soon after the cut-off date have the advantages to have a better team, coach, and practices that in turn makes them better. He then brings the platform of education for age cut-offs plays affect as the oldest and youngest student have “twelve percentile points” difference when compared standardized testing for fourth graders (Gladwell 2).

This difference allows maturity rewarded where there is better training for them and is what Gladwell highlights to show that age cut-offs need to be talked about in the matters of education reform. Gladwell emphasis that our culture says that the best and the smartest are the ones that are successful, but that it is not the case it is the “accumulative advantage” that a person has that equips them to become an outlier as the hockey player birthday is after the cut-off makes recruiters want him more because of the ability and strength of being older which then recruiters give opportunities of getting him better resources and coaching (Gladwell 30).

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He concludes chapter one with a solution for getting more success stories is to not grasp to the idea that individual excellence is not the result of success it is the surroundings around us, the “accumulative advantage” that can lead to success (Gladwell 30).

In chapter two Gladwell carries on his point that success does not just come from individual merit with three real-life examples of Bill Joy, Beatles, and Bill Gates to support his stance. He starts with Bill Joy who first did not even want to pursue a career in computing just came across the computing center at the University of Michigan, which his school happened to be one of the first schools to use time-sharing, where several people can join a computer with a Teletype and get feedback and send out commands, and he de-bugged the software so he could continue programming without needing to pay any more. Programming that many hours helped Joy successfully rewrite Java and UNIX that we still use today. Gladwell tells that Joy calculation of hours programmed was ten thousand hours and Gladwell then implements his ten thousand-Hour Rule where success can come with at least ten thousand hours of deliberate practice and the backbone and resources to use ten thousand hours practicing.

After describing his rule, Gladwell used two examples, the Beatles for music and Bill Gates for technology, to show how it can apply to different disciplines. The Beatles started off their careers when they were asked to play in Germany in strip clubs for eight-hour sets for seven days a week it was the abundance amount of practice of doing live sets that helped them reach success when they made their break in music. In technology, Bill Gates logged in more than ten thousand hours as he started off with his first advantage of having a computer club at his high school that his friend’s dad gave time-shared computers to. Bill Gates had many advantages discussed in the Outliers that came from luck, riches, and privilege. The advantage of Joy happened to come across his university time-shared computer lab, the Beatles abundant amount of live set practice, and Gates many available opportunities were concluded to prove that the advantages they had are facts that are necessary to their success.

In chapter three and four Chris Langan, a man with a thirty percent higher IQ than Alber Einstein’s that learned to speak when he was six months old, is discussed with Robert Oppenheimer, who helped develop a nuclear bomb in World War II to prove social rank in other words class can affect success. Gladwell tells the difference between the two as Oppenheimer had parents that supported his passions and instilled confidences whereas Langas lived in a bad environment and with absent parents when came to education and life skills. Oppenheimer had better success in his life because of the environment that he has surrounded him that gave him the push for his goals. Gladwell shows this comparison to the readers to validate that Lewis Terman theory of with a high IQ you will be successful is wrong. In the rest of the chapters of Outliers, examples of people that confirms the massive effect our ethnicity, our family members past, and our heritage has on potential success.

The overall message that Gladwell reiterates throughout his book and validates is that success and outliers are created from the start to the end of opportunities and more success can happen if the same opportunities would be available to others. This novel altogether made me think about the opportunities I was given in my life if I was not given a full ride to Texas A&M University I would not have been able to fully focus on my education and I would be more worried about getting enough money each month so my parents would not have to pay. If I did not have the opportunity of getting into the Engineering Summer Bridge Program before freshman year I would not have met my best friends. With my abundant amount of logistical experiences from working with non-profit organizations, I would not have fallen in love with Industrial Distribution. It is because of the opportunities in my life that I am here today and I could not be more thankful for them. Each day I practice being a better Industrial Distribution student and hope one day I can accomplish the ten thousand hour rule and become an outlier that my parents are proud of.

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The Great Practice Myth: Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell Book Review. (2021, Apr 26). Retrieved from

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