Outliers

Book

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

My Highlights

Their research suggests that once a musician has enough ability to get into a top music school, the thing that distinguishes one performer from another is how hard he or she works. That’s it. And what’s more, the people at the very top don’t work just harder or even much harder than everyone else. They work much, much harder.

The idea that excellence at performing a complex task requires a critical minimum level of practice surfaces again and again in studies of expertise. In fact, researchers have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise: ten thousand hours.

Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.

Those three things—autonomy, complexity, and a connection between effort and reward—are, most people agree, the three qualities that work has to have if it is to be satisfying.

Hard work is a prison sentence only if it does not have meaning. Once it does, it becomes the kind of thing that makes you grab your wife around the waist and dance a jig.

work hard enough and assert yourself, and use your mind and imagination, you can shape the world to your desires.

Jewish doctors and lawyers did not become professionals in spite of their humble origins. They became professionals because of their humble origins.

Planes are safer when the least experienced pilot is flying, because it means the second pilot isn’t going to be afraid to speak up.

Asian children, by contrast, don’t feel nearly that same bafflement. They can hold more numbers in their heads and do calculations faster, and the way fractions are expressed in their languages corresponds exactly to the way a fraction actually is—and maybe that makes them a little more likely to enjoy math, and maybe because they enjoy math a little more, they try a little harder and take more math classes and are more willing to do their homework, and on and on, in a kind of virtuous circle.

Success is a function of persistence and doggedness and the willingness to work hard for twenty-two minutes to make sense of something that most people would give up on after thirty seconds.

When it comes to reading skills, poor kids learn nothing when school is not in session.

Virtually all of the advantage that wealthy students have over poor students is the result of differences in the way privileged kids learn while they are not in school.

Outliers are those who have been given opportunities—and who have had the strength and presence of mind to seize them.

To build a better world we need to replace the patchwork of lucky breaks and arbitrary advantages that today determine success—the fortunate birth dates and the happy accidents of history—with a society that provides opportunities for all. If Canada had a second hockey league for those children born in the last half of the year, it would today have twice as many adult hockey stars. Now multiply that sudden flowering of talent by every field and profession. The world could be so much richer than the world we have settled for.

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