Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers

Category: [Uncategorized]

Tag: [Books]


2min read

Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers is one of those books that I re-read once every few years, for various reasons. Gladwell’s style of prose is clear - most of his sentences are right-branching, and follows the SVO structure, making it easy to follow his thought process. Every chapter in the book is a complete essay on its own - they often start with a seemingly obscure part of human history, only for Gladwell to drive home on his thesis. It’s also delightful that Singapore is mentioned a number of times in the book - in the US-dominated book industry, we don’t always get noticed.

But the most important reason why I enjoy Outliers is its message. In the book, Gladwell draws our attention to well-known success and failure stories, and reveals a layer of unexpected and unintuitive factors to explain these stories.

Month of birth, sufficient IQ and EQ, family upbringing, 10,000 work hours, cultural differences - these are some of the factors that Gladwell urges us to consider when looking at success or failure stories - beyond just meritocratic considerations. In effect, Gladwell encourages us to look deeper at a success or failure story, and think about the context that brought about the story.

The 10,000 hour rule, and having opportunities to practise - these are the factors that I felt relatable and inspiring each time I re-read the book. These are the factors that, to some extent, are within my control. Hard work, accumulating hours of practice, and simply a strong work ethic in general, are positions that we can place ourselves in, as much as we possibly can.