“Outliers: The Story of Success” by Malcolm Gladwell
In a statistical sample, data points that deviate greatly from the norm are called “outliers”. In Malcolm Gladwell’s book, he looks at people who are statistical outliers; those who do things that are out of the ordinary. What is it about some people that makes them truly stand out? Why are some extremely successful when others are not?
First and foremost, Gladwell is a story teller. Few people could make so much statistical analysis into a page-turner, but he has succeeded! The individual stories told in the book are fascinating, but the way he weaves them all together into one larger “story of success” is truly amazing.
In the end, readers discover that real success is the result of much more (but definitely not less) than intelligence and ambition. Our cultural legacy (extending back several generations) also plays a large role, as do many seemingly random occurrences that are out of our control, such as one’s place and time of birth.
The entire book was good, but of particular interest to me were “The 10,000 Hour Rule” and the section speaking about the parenting method known as “concerted cultivation”. Both of these are especially relevant to my field of music education, as they are among the more controllable factors mentioned in the book that can lead to excellence in music (among many other things).
I highly recommend this book for all readers. It’s one of the most interesting books I’ve read in a long time, and gave me a lot to think about. If you’re looking for a book that will tell you exactly how to become a wildly successful statistical outlier, this is not it, but it will help you see yourself and the world around you differently. Buy it here.