Success And Luck In Life In Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
Malcom Gladwell, the author of Outliers, discusses important factors that create a lucky combination for an individual to unlock the potential for success; this lucky combination is what sets individuals apart from others, making them outliers. The factors that lead toward success go beyond analytical intelligence,and the situations are both in and out of physical and personal control. Gladwell says that an individual is not able to achieve great success without some, if not all, of these factors being coincidentally lined up to benefit the individual.These factors are products of luck and hard work, learned and inherited behavior, and more importantly thehelp from others and the position of social location. A prodigy would be lost in a crowd if that individual does not possess the necessary skills that would separate one’s self from others and be able to swaysocial situations in personal favor. These factors that Gladwell says allows an individual to become successful include having a talent and the means to practice that talent excessively, extraordinary opportunities, the home and location an individual is raised in, the sense of self-entitlement and learned practical intelligence, and cultural legacy.
When thinking of success, most people imagine a very talented individual who climbs to the top through personal perseverance. However, mere talent is only a fraction of the cause for success, and certainly not the most important. Most trades can be taught and learned through extensive practice, although there is the existence of innate talent. That talent goes to waste, however, when an individual is not provided with the means to practice and hone in the skills of such talent. The mastering of a skill is generally thought of as reaching the practice of an intentional and determined ten-thousand hours, which is an overwhelmingly large amount of time. For an individual to recognize their talent at a young age and have the means to practice so intensely would mean that the parents of the individual could afford to give the time and support that would be necessary to put in so much effort (42). That talent then would need to be given the opportunity to advance beyond just passion and practice.
Opportunities are a major subject that Gladwell discusses, because it is through opportunities that an individual is able to take the practiced talent and transform it into a powerful advantage over others. Although it is unfair, people do not receive the same amount of opportunities throughout life. Institutions are a part of what brings opportunities, such as Bill Gates’ opportunities. Gateshappened to attend Lakeside High School as a young adolescent;the schoolalso happened tohave raised the funds for a time-sharing terminal in 1968. Another opportunity was living within walking distance of the University of Washington, where there happened to be free access to a terminal between three and six in the morning (54). Gates also received a lucky opportunity through the social connection of ISI founder Bud Pembroke of TRW, who needed programmers familiar with the very skills Gates had been practicing (53). Opportunities are unique to location, time and social connections; in other words, the individual’s social location in history. Opportunities may also arise from the very family an individual is born into and the advantages that family may provide.
Growing up in a family that is actively engaged in the development of skills and the mind creates a beneficial environment for an individual, but the location in which a family lives allows an individual to be given different opportunities which proves to be just as important. As seen with Bill Gates and the luck of living so close to a university that had free access to a terminal in an age where computers were rare, as well as going to a high school that had a terminal, location is important. For a person to be raised in an area in which the individual’s specific talent could be practiced in a special way that others do not get access to,in a time of which the skill becomes needed, is uncommon. Such luck can also be seen in the family behaviors towards mental development. It is generally thewealthier families in the upper-middle class that pay extreme attention to mental development and thus bestow the young mind with a sense of entitlement in which the individual is not afraid to put themselves on the same level as others; the child will, for example, not be afraid to question doctors or teachers or relate personal opinions to those authority figures (106). While it can be taught to lower class individuals as well, it is more commonly seen in the upper class because the lower class parents are typically timid of authority figures and tend to be quiet and submissive, thus teaching the children constraint (107). Interacting with authority figures is a cultural advantage acquired through parental encouragement and is a skill that Gladwell says is necessary for success (108).This entitlement is the foundation for an individual to interact in social environments and to learn the skills of practical intelligence; this is the knowledge of what to say, to whom, and when to say it for maximum effect in order to sway situations in personal favor (100). There is also another contribution that families provide towards an individual’s success, which are behavioral traits.
Cultural legacy is the behavioral traits passed down through the generations, dating back even hundreds of years, derived from the nature of the particular culture that a bloodline comes from. Certain cultures value personality traits differently, depending on the necessity of that trait for the area. For example, people whom the rocky mountainsides were the ancestor’s homes, tend to become more aggressive in situations that threaten honor because their ancestors had to defend their reputation and stock in a harsh terrain (167). This cultural tendencyto be aggressive, along with other behavioral traits and patterns, becomesingrained in genetics and is present throughout generations to come. Other traits, such as hard work, are also the product of culture. Gladwell explains that the reason Asian countries are able to excel so significantly in mathematics compared to others is because of their long legacy of rice farming, which is a very tedious and precise practice (233). This hard work ethic is applied to all aspects of life, including education, which means that giving up on mathematics is not an option; there is an expectation to number-crunch until the answer is found (230). These behavioral traits affect an individual’s response to situations and in turn, the ability to create the social web and situational skills that are beneficial to succeed. These behaviors develop into skills that bring forth possible opportunities to use a mastered talent as an advantage over other people, allowing an individual to achieve great success; in other words, all of the factors are interdependent.
For Gladwell to spell out the foundation of success means that individuals can interpret their own paths towards success in a more detailed and thoughtful way. While many people have different ideas of what success means, it is safe to say that Gladwell has captured the essence of great historical success stories by analyzing the lives and histories of different outliers. If a person has a great talent and wishes to enhance that skill towards mastery and fame, that individual can then relate Gladwell’s explanation of the ten thousand hour rule and understand that mastery only comes with dedication and unrelenting attention. That individual would then also understand fromOutliers that beyond talent there must be opportunities and that success is never achieved through a lone struggle. Globally, individuals could have a sense of understanding that for these factors to align in personal favor is rather unlikely, so perhaps there would be less disappointment and expectation for greatness; at the same time, people could find motivation to achieve their own success, even if that does not mean fame, through the means of rewarding work and perseverance.
Review Of Malcolm Gladwell`S Book “Outliers”
In the general view today, a predominant piece of society have come to envision that the building blocks of accomplishment are inside the personality and character of the individual. On the contrary to this conviction, Malcolm Gladwell certifies in his top of the line unquestionable book Outliers that accomplishment is shaped by external powers in which certain individuals are yielded correct openings and inclinations that only one out of every odd individual is given by predetermination. Regardless of the way that his condition passes on strong affirmation to the extent these distinctive forces of date of birth, family establishment, and altogether blessed openings; helping clear the road for gaining ground, Gladwell undeniably avoids the estimation of industrious work and confirmation. Gladwell’s theory of achieving accomplishment holds some authenticity, yet he deliberately precludes the middle essence of individual effort inside his examinations. The center of advance is inside the individual’s ability to persist through inconveniences and disasters as opposed to it only including people abusing diverse outside forces.
In his first segment, Gladwell looks at the birth dates of tip top Canadian hockey players fighting in the last club facilitate. In his examination, clearly an astonishing predominant piece of the players, around 70 percent, are considered inside the underlying three months of the year. Gladwell raises, “It’s fundamentally that in Canada the capability cutoff for age-class hockey is January initial” (24). Gladwell presumes that the basic favored point of view of physical improvement prompts the kids being detached into two social events; the “ordinary” and the “unprecedented,” or more decisively communicated, the “more energetic players” and the “more settled players.” This division gives those more prepared players the benefit of better teaching and wide practice hours in their starter athletic interests. Regardless of the way that his presentation is sensible, it undermines individuals who intentionally make windows of chance by virtue of their constant character. An exceptional case that showcases such productive responsibility and valor is the record of Oscar Pistorius. Pistorius is a paraplegic that battle physically fit enemies in the London 2012 Olympics in both the 4×400 exchange and the 400M dash, making astonishing history regardless of the troublesome are had no single great position to help him on the way, anyway in spite of apparently unrealistic resistance, he fanatically arranged to meet up and no more tip top wearing event on the planet. The nature of Pistorius’ consistency and responsibility give bottomless verification in how individual will can challenge all doubts and leave a mark on the world.
In the second section of Outliers, entitled “The 10,000 Hour Rule,” Gladwell underlines this specific measure of time while deciding the distinction amongst experts and beginners. In help of this rule, Gladwell gives his perusers stories of The Beatles, Bill Gates, and Bill Joy in their individual adventures toward riches and notoriety. While portraying The Beatles early days, Gladwell notices their aggregate measure of exhibitions in Hamburg, “The Beatles wound up heading out to Hamburg five times in the vicinity of 1960 and the finish of 1962. On the primary outing, they played 106 evenings, at least five hours every night… All told, they performed for 270 evenings in a little more than 18 months” (49-50). It surely bodes well that stretched out long stretches of training liken to higher effectiveness in any territory of expertise, however Gladwell’s fundamental contention is that the inceptive chance to play such long shows for a few evenings amid the week is the thing that gave The Beatles the likelihood of turning into a capable band, and accordingly exceptionally fruitful in their melodic vocation. In spite of the fact that the Hamburg opportunity gave The Beatles an unprecedented measure of time to build up their aptitudes, Gladwell presents this data in a way that ruins the essentialness of individuals who shape their own thriving. The virtuosic guitarist Steve Vai substantiates this subject of vigorous assurance without the requirement for a “brilliant opportunity.” One may contend that he had a chance to wind up an incredible artist since his folks got him his first guitar and upheld his enthusiasm. Anyway the essential distinction is that a great many people are special with occurrences of chance that others may never experience, however the rule is that some surpassed ordinariness due to their yearning character, along these lines extending their window of chance through cognizant exertion. Mr. Vai emerges among the rest; he earned a Ph.D in music from the esteemed Berklee College of Music and is viewed as a performer that altered the style of playing guitar. To put it plainly, Mr. Vai is confirmation of not just achieving your fantasies and thriving with progress, however he epitomizes the way towards authority through quality of character.
The Hill To Success In “Outliers” By Malcolm Gladwell
In the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell the author exclaims, “In Outliers, I want to convince you that these kinds of personal explanations of success don’t work. People don’t rise from nothing”. This demonstrates Gladwell’s purpose which is to change the world’s mind on how success does not happen overnight, it requires effort, opportunity, and help. Towards the end of the book, Gladwell begins talking about his own success that emerges from the hidden advantages and multiple opportunities that his parents and grandparents received, which is where his purpose for the book really begins. Moreover, Gladwell’s strategic organizational choice for Outliers is set by various examples. In each chapter, there are different reasons why people become successful. By choosing this organization, Gladwell makes it easy for the reader to acknowledge what he is saying. Malcolm Gladwell mentioning his own family story provides more reasoning on his purpose since it is based on a true story.
To begin with, Gladwell’s purpose of the book, Outliers is that one has to be given opportunities, be born at the right time, have the right cultural background, and have the help from others in order to become successful. An example that Gladwell states is one of the successful geniuses well known, Bill Gates who was given opportunities in order to accomplish his discovery of computer programming. As discussed in Outliers, Gates was not made successful himself. After school, he would go to an office to work on programming, but after they went bankrupt, Gates and his friends started going to the University of Washington’s library. The number of hours that Bill Gates and his friends stayed at the library accumulated to more than 10,000 hours of experience, but then again, he was not alone. Gates had his friends, parents, and the school’s help to become very successful. Moreover, Gladwell mentioning his family story towards the end of the book, it makes his purpose for the book more realistic to the reader since it contains real-life experience. In the excerpt, “A Jamaican Story,” it talks about a major civil strife in Jamaica as a possible contributor to his own current success. In addition, Gladwell describes the success of his own family as a series of lucky breaks that were not clearly designed to reach the current state. All the way from his great-great-great grandmother picking sugarcane in the plantations of Jamaica to his mother being a successful writer in Canada. This just shows how one can come from a tough background, yet receive an opportunity that can make one succeed even with those challenges, which is Gladwell’s point.
Next, throughout Outliers, Gladwell uses a specific structural organization. For each point Gladwell makes, he offers a story about success and follows it with a breakdown of the factors that caused such a fortune. An example of this use of organization is when Gladwell begins discussing The Beatles. Gladwell mentions where The Beatles originated which were full of strip clubs and bars, so they always had interesting gigs because their city lacked rock’n’roll bars. After a few years, they were sent to Hamburg, Germany and that is where George Harrison and Ringo Starr met John Lennon and Paul McCartney, who formerly had a tiny “band” themselves. They discovered each other’s dreams of becoming a rock band and created The Beatles and with more practice, they became very popular. Moreover, they would not have achieved the dreams that they wanted if it was not for the club gigs and their selection to perform in Hamburg. They had each other and the club owners supporting them. The reason why Gladwell’s family story helps this example is because Gladwell’s fate relied on a white man who had raped his great-great-great grandmother repeatedly, causing her to have a Mulatto son enough for him to avoid slavery. The riots based on racism in Jamaica allowed his mother to pursue the aspiration of education. Also, the courtesy of Mr. Chance lending her money for the University had helped shape the success in the family. Gladwell states “It takes no small degree of humility for him to look back on his life and say, ‘I was very lucky’”. This demonstrates how Gladwell and his family were very lucky to accept such great opportunities along their way. It was the dedication and the luck that granted Gladwell’s family to success, similar to the Beatles.
In addition, there are various principles represented to the reader. The “10,000-Hour Rule” is very important during the book since it is the most common ways people get the most successful at what they do. Gladwell discusses the success story of Bill Joy who went to the University of Michigan in 1971. Joy happened to come across the newly added computer center that had the most advanced systems installed and he was “hooked”. Moreover, the fact that Michigan was one of the very few that had time-sharing system computers and made it available 24/7, Joy was able to practice programming all day and night which enabled him to practice a lot more than most people in that time. Gladwell goes on to explain that no matter how talented one is and if they do not put enough practice in, they will not excel in their field. The “10,000-Hour Rule” really spoke to me in various ways. For example, during 5th grade, I started playing the clarinet. At just 12 years old, I was already joining in many extracellular activities. Since I never played an instrument before, I was very hesitant about even joining the school band thinking I was going to be awful no matter how much I practiced. Eventually, the school band teacher made me realize that I should practice a lot and even gave me some sheet music so I can achieve being a good clarinet player.
Analysis of Rhetorical Figures ad Means in the Text
Piercing screams, angry chants, and heartfelt tears: that is the climate of change. Compare this to the placid clicking of keyboards, the casual transmission of emoticons; it is evident which situation will go down in history. This is Malcolm Gladwell’s central argument in his essay “Small Change: Why the Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted.” In order to convince readers that progress cannot be made through social media, Gladwell uses logos and ethos, an intellectual persona, and his unique writing style. He draws his audience in and convinces his readers that “social media cannot provide what social change has always required” (315).
Gladwell’s abundant use of real world examples and facts allows him to validate his argument. The best example of this tactic is the anecdote at the beginning of his piece: the two page-long summary of the well-known Greensboro sit-in during 1960. By the end of the spiel, Gladwell has caught his reader’s attention and has put his audience right into the situation, making his statement, “…it all happened without e-mail, texting, Facebook, or twitter” (314) potent and sufficient without any kind of explanation. Similarly, he does not express any opinion without giving a valid real-world example of why he thinks a certain way. Bringing up the demise of the Palestinian Liberation Organization and Al-Qaeda supports his perspective on how insufficient networks actually are in changing any kind of social order. These well-known examples give him credibility as well as a crucial means of appealing to his audience. Yet Gladwell’s use of logos was not the only rhetorical device that helped in conveying his argument.
The essay itself starts by dropping the reader right into the tense situation of the 1960 Greensboro sit-in. Presented with visual details of how the rebellion occurred, the reader can almost hear the sounds and feel the intensity during that time. This is Gladwell’s tactic for convincing the reader of the wisdom of his point of view. After the long introduction that undoubtedly captured the reader’s full attention, Gladwell gives an explanation for his opinion on the inadequate role that social media has played in activism nowadays. His explanation includes specific examples of the use of Facebook and Twitter, indirectly juxtaposing social activism during the 1960s versus today. He then brings up a different idea of the “so-called Twitter Revolution” of Moldova and Iran, giving the reader a different perspective on the irrelevance of social media in revolutions around the world. After concluding that argument, he picks up where he left off about the sit-in; he continues to do so throughout his essay, each time proving that the use of social media is inferior to directly confronting unjust hierarchies when it comes to social change. This kind of writing strategy keeps the reader engaged, a task which is the most important aspect in conveying an idea. However, this was not his only writing strategy that kept Gladwell’s readers coming back for more.
Throughout his essay, Gladwell maintained an intellectual, yet humble, tone. His word choice and syntax gave him an educated persona. This identity is vital in establishing credibility, which allows the reader to trust that Gladwell knows what he is talking about, helping him in his goal of convincing the reader of his perspective. Consider his statement on how social media has given people a means to speak up, “…the traditional relationship between political authority and popular will has been upended, making it easier for the powerless to collaborate, coordinate, and give voices to their concerns” (314). This quote shows his scholarly personality and revealing him as a balanced, educated observer, therefore appealing to his rational audience.
For the most part, Gladwell makes an effective argument on how the use of social media has not helped to dramatically improve social customs. However, I disagree with the positive connotation that he gives to uprisings and revolutions. By focusing on how inadequate social media is in achieving social change, Gladwell overlooks the deeper problem of how physical rebellions in the past have caused more disorder and destruction than they helped populations that are in need of aid and reform. Moreover, he neglects to mention that although social media is only good for spreading ideas, sometimes such communication is all that is needed in achieving meaningful social reform.
Malcolm Gladwell’s overall argument in showing the ineffectiveness of social media in social reform is efficient. His intellectual person as well as his use of logos, ethos, and a unique writing style helped him appeal to his readers. Naturally, he was able to successfully convey his opinion to his readers, who, in turn, will hopefully act upon this information. Gladwell’s perspective is valid in terms of how he approaches the issue of the insignificance of social media in changing social agendas. However, he fails to mention that the alternative, which includes rowdy crowds and violent attacks, can undermine the better goals of reformers and activists. This lapse weakens his argument, as rebellions could actually create more disorder, keeping society from achieving true progression.
Gladwell, Malcom. “Small Change: Why the Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted.” They Say/I
: The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing. 2nd Edition. Graff, Gerald, Cathy
Birkenstein, and Russel Durst; New York City: W.W. Norton & Company, 2012. 312-
People and Their Learning Abilities According to Gladwell
Educational Success and the Advantages
Success is not something that is just given to someone, it is something that one has to earn. Educational success is determined on our own hard work and the choices that we make. One has to be very motivated and not only want to succeed but they have to try to succeed and work hard to achieve their goal. Even though success has to be earned there are many opportunities and advantages that are given to certain individuals. As Gladwell argues in Outliers, people who are successful in education have often had special advantages such as parents support, high IQ scores, and being born in certain months out of the year.
One of Gladwell’s arguments is that people born in the first three months of the year, January, February, and March have more of a chance towards success. In the first chapter he uses an example with hockey. There is a chart with all of the hockey players from a team and almost all of them are born in the first three months in the year. He states, “It has nothing to do with astrology, nor is there anything magical about the first three months of the year. Its simply that in Canada the eligibility cutoff for age-class hockey is January 1st.” So if there were two young boys, one born on January 1st and another born on January 2nd the child that was born on the second would not be able to play on that years team, he would have to wait until the next year. Because he has to wait until the next year, in that time of waiting that child is going to mature and grow and he will automatically have a better chance of being the better player on that next year’s team. Not only does this go with sports but cut off dates interferes with school and one’s education as well.
Because of the cut off dates it causes younger children to be in a class with an older age group and older kids to be in a class with kids who are younger. If you are one of the kids who is older in the class you are going to be more mature and learning will come easier to you rather than the younger kids. When a teacher sees a child excelling in a classroom, that child is rewarded and most times get special attention. This leads that child to have better self confidence. If a child is ‘too smart” to be in that grade they may get the opportunity to learn past the others in the class, this would lead that child to have more education and they are already one step ahead in their life.
Some people’s success comes from the environment that they grew up in whether it be good or bad. Kids who grow up in a bad environment or have little parent support for their education sometimes struggle in school or struggle making friends. Having parents support is very important for a child to succeed in school. A child’s first teacher is their parents, they are their role models while growing up. A parent’s attitude towards their child’s education can really affect a child to want or to not want to succeed. In my personal experience growing up I did not grow up in an environment where I was taught that education and school was important. In elementary school I do not remember ever doing homework and when I did do it, I did not have a parent to tell me to do it nor help me with it either. Because I lacked having parent support some of my grades dropped and I struggled a little more than others who had that support. Even though I was not taught that education was important I still loved school. I loved going to class everyday and learning new things.
When I was in 6th grade my mom got custody of me and my little brother. This is when I learned that I needed to do well in school. My mom provided great support for me and my brother during our later years in school. She helped me with my homework and projects as well as made sure that we got our homework done everyday. Before we went to hangout with our friends or played our video games we always had to have our homework or reading done first. My mom would bribe my brother and I with money, we were paid for every A and B that we earned. We were not allowed to get any grade below a B and if were to get anything below and 80% in a class then we would not get paid for that grade. This reward system that my mom made up really helped me thrive to get good grades not only because of the money but because I loved it when I made my mom proud.
During high school is when I was really introduced to the idea about college and furthering my education after high school. Neither of my parents went to college and did not even graduate from high school. This is what my mom says is one of her biggest regrets in life. Because she did not further her education she has struggled in her life, she does not want the same for her children. My mom has always told me that education is important, this is one of the main reasons why I plan to continue going through college. If I did not have her support through this whole thing I do not know if I would feel the same about my education.
Even though some kids do not grow up with support of their parents some kids learn from their parents mistakes and do not want to end up like them. Having to grow up in a bad environment pushes you to want better. In Outliers it talks about Chris Langins experience growing up and how he decided to move away from his past and go to college. In this chapter Langin says “To this day I have never met anybody who was as poor when they were kids as our family was.” Langin says how horrible of a life he had while growing up, his family struggled financially and he lacked support from his mother. Chris Langin was a very smart guy and even earned a scholarship which he ended up not getting because his mother did not send out the financial statement. Even though he went through some bad experiences he still pushed through it and got an education. Having a parents support throughout your educational journey really helps, with their support you can avoid having to go through some of the things that Langin had to deal with. Since Chris Langin was a very smart individual he had a little less of a hard time learning certain material.
Some people think that success is given to people and that it is something that they will never have. Being a genius or having a high IQ score does play a huge role in success in many cases, because they are naturally smart or talented. Being born smart will help in learning because that person will learn quicker than others. Even though being really smart can help you be successful, the achievement is not just going to come along with it. You have to work really hard and practice a lot to earn success. Other factors that help in educational success is classroom setting, teachers, and your participation. If a teacher cares about your education and helps you with things that you struggle with you are more likely to have a better education. Your education and your success is mainly on you. A person needs to pay attention and do assignments in class in order to actually learn the material.
In the educational system they use IQ testing to rank students to see how smart they are and to see what classes they should be placed into. Testing students puts them into separate categories basically telling them that they are smart or they are not. These test can bring down someones self esteem and make them feel as if they are not good enough, when in reality they are, they just have a different type of intelligence. There are many tests such as the SAT and the ACT. These specific tests only test on very few types of intelligence. There are several types of intelligences that people have such as creativity and leadership intelligence. Everyone is smart in their own way.
In chapter three Gladwell compares two very smart mens IQ scores. One of the men Einstein and the other Chris Langin. Gladwell says “Einstein had an IQ of 150 and Langan had an IQ of 195. …they are both clearly smart enough.” The point of Gladwell’s argument is having a high IQ score means that you are very intelligent, but after a certain point anything above that high score does not mean it is any better. Even though Langan’s IQ was 45 points higher than Einstein’s does not mean that he is any smarter than him. All it means is that they are both smart enough and that they can both figure out very complicated questions and both have very good chances towards success.
Success has to be earned. For success to be earned it requires dedication,motivation and hard work. There are advantages that many individuals have which helps them academically but everyone has the same chance towards success. Those who do not obtain the advantages such as parents support, having a high IQ score or who have birthdays before the cut off dates in school still have the same opportunity to further their education and be successful, they may just have to work a little bit harder, but the hard work always pays off.
Celebrities And Their Oppurtunities According To Malcolm Gladwell
We see it on television, online, and through the proverbial grape-vine on a daily basis; the rich elites of our country are asking their audiences to reach under their chairs to find the keys to a new car or inviting strangers on stage to trade a trivia answer for a new living room entertainment system. These celebrities, such as Oprah, Ellen, and numerous others, represent the disparity between the rich and the poor in the US and the ease with which many can manage to give away much of their wealth at the drop of a hat while hundreds of thousands of other Americans can hardly make ends meet in paying their bills and feeding their families. These celebrities as well as their peers in stardom have the ability to give much of their wealth away at no cost to themselves, but what is often seen is a lack of charitable output compared to monetary input; is this a problem? Peter Singer’s opinion that wealth, apart from the money allotted to necessities, should be given to the less fortunate is admirable and should certainly be followed by today’s elite.
America is certainly well-to-do in comparison to other countries globally, but alongside this wealth, a disparity between the haves and the have-nots is seen on a larger scale than many worldwide economies. Therefore the wealthiest of the wealthy, the best of the best should have no hesitations to giving away a great deal of money to those less fortunate. But according to Peter Singer, this money should be given to overseas charities and recipients. It is there that a qualification must be made; there are millions in America that are living at or near poverty, just as there are in other countries. While the conditions of other countries’ inhabitants may be different in practicality from those of Americans, there is an equal need for financial support in the US as there is in Africa, for example. As such, Singer’s claim that “overseas” should be the destination of the funds donated by America’s elite is misdirected. Additionally, it is fair to argue that celebrities’ earnings are their own money, to do with as they choose. I have heard many stories of celebrities working extraordinarily hard to get to where they are in stardom, as is the case with Harry Connick Jr., a current celebrity who attested to countless failed auditions and rejections before the “big break” came through. In this way, expecting celebrities to contribute to others’ lives may be an infringement on their enjoyment of their well-deserved spoils of perseverance.
Yet many of today’s celebrities owe much of their success to opportunities unavailable to most. This is yet another reason that charitable donations should be made by the wealthy, for, as Malcolm Gladwell describes in his book Outliers, success is a direct result of a string of opportunities, which he describes using cases such as the Beatles and even Bill Gates. Speaking of the wildly fortunate computer genius, Bill Gates, he owes much of the approximate 28,000 per minute that he earns constantly to opportunities, such as his hometown and upbringing. Shouldn’t he have to reciprocate the opportunities granted to him by granting opportunities to millions of others through substantial charitable donations? In response, he has–but his contributions, according to Peter Singer’s How Much Should Millionaires Give? totals only about 35% of his earnings, while other, less wealthy individuals such as Kravinsky have managed to donate 99.99% of their wealth while still retaining a comfortable lifestyle and a substantial inheritance to pass on to his children.
Therefore, while Singer’s wording may be to specific in identifying overseas as a location to which all charitable donations by the top earners of our society should be made, his ideals that philanthropy should be expected of the wealthy is true. Personally, I am not quick to dole out the money I have earned; I am generally hesitant to buy a friend’s Starbucks without confirmation that I will be repaid. But I earn minimum wage, working one to two days a week. So there is a definite contrast between what I earn and should donate and what Bill Gates earns and should donate. But even I, who earned less than $3000 working all of the previous year, tithe the 10% called for in the Bible, the most sold and most sought after book in the entire world.
In Singer’s How Much Should a Millionaire Give, he analyzes what this tithe-identical 10% giving would look like if everyone from the top 10% of American earners gave. The numbers were staggering, easily meeting the standards requested by a globally determined financial goal to substantially combat hunger and poverty worldwide. These numbers also revealed that, after a donation such as this, there was plenty left on which to live comfortably.
When we look at how the top earning individuals can easily, easily contribute and make a difference without endangering their own well-being, we see that there is no reason that they should not be doing so. Peter Singer was right in his claim that those who can give should give. As Gladwell’s Outliers professes, success stems from opportunities given, opportunities that the elite are well within their power to give.
The 10,000 Hour Rule in Outliers
In today’s day and age, it is said that a persons’ economic background, perseverance and innate talents determine how successful they will be in life. It is believed that the “American Dream” can only be achieved by those privileged few who were born talented or those who can afford to become talented. Those who have not grown up so fortunately are stuck believing that prosperity is not available for them. They grew up thinking that they shouldn’t be practicing for something they weren’t initially good at, assuming that successful people did not have to practice because they were born with natural talent and everything came fairly easy to them. Malcolm Gladwell‘s Outliers challenges that belief by claiming that the people that became successful were those who were born during the right time and were given a special opportunity to master their skills. In the context of publication – the economic downfall in 2008 – the genre and audience of Gladwell’s pieces play an important role in making his argument effective. Gladwell wrote an informative book to an audience troubled by the recession, claiming that 10,000 hours was the defining line to master a skill. With his claim, he mentions the people that were given extraordinary opportunities throughout their lives that gave them the ability to practice their skill and achieve ultimate success. Gladwell writes to an audience of people who had been affected by the recession, explaining to them that a person’s individual merit and innate talent does not guarantee them success. He strives to illustrate a pattern of the years each of these people were born, and how that determines what opportunities they received as they grew up.
In a sense, the book was uplifting to those who believed that they either could not or were not working hard enough to become successful. It was proof that even if someone was unbelievably talented or a hard worker, they could not go far unless they were given the opportunity to practice. The book tells the stories of people like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, two of the lucky few people born in the right place at the right time. “These are stories, instead, about people who were given a special opportunity to work really hard and seized it, and who happened to come of age at a time when that extraordinary effort was rewarded by the rest of society” (Gladwell 67). The author’s purpose was to inform readers of something they hadn’t known or realized before. Gladwell often mentioned the 10,000-hour rule, which he introduced in the beginning and explained throughout the text, backing it up with examples; so, while reading the book, the audience began to see all the evidence that proves the 10,000 hour rule to be true. By the end, they were fascinated with the evidence that lead back to rule that Gladwell introduced. He took the time to gather data and interview these inspirational people, drawing support back to his rule. As well as the 10,000 hours needed to master their skill, these technological visionaries were born within the perfect time frame, highly contributing to their road to success. While most people would not have necessarily thought that anyone’s date of birth was relative to their opportunities for success, Gladwell saw a pattern in the years that some future billionaire software tycoons were born and discovered a significant relevance. He developed a claim, stating that these visionaries came of age when technology was evolving, so with an open mind, a desire to learn and the special opportunities they received, such as having unique access to a computer back when such technology was a rare commodity, they went on to achieve great things. Gladwell tells the stories of the billionaires everyone aspires to be, who started off just like everyone else; but given their circumstance, received the opportunity of a lifetime to master a skill that ended up changing the world.
Though most of evidence is based off of the lives of billionaires, famous rock bands and professional hockey players, Gladwell also writes about the opportunity he took advantage of, giving the readers a look into his life and how it relates to his claim. After college, Gladwell did not go to graduate school because he claimed he did not have the grades for it, so he decided to embark on a career path. With many rejections under his belt when looking for jobs in advertising, Gladwell began looking into journalism. He spent many hours writing for local newspapers and prints, racking up 10,000 hours before he started writing for The New Yorker. He gained respect and credibly as an author with the many articles and books he wrote. Since his pieces were well known and widely read, his third book, Outliers, was definitely just as popular. It was number one on the New York Times bestseller list and stayed there for 11 consecutive weeks. He’s known for his intellectual and informative text, yet simplified to be easily comprehendible and understandable. Gladwell wrote a book that keeps his audience captivated and encourages them to continue reading, as though they were reading a novel. He provides many intriguing examples and facts that keep the audience interested throughout the entire book.
Published in November of 2008, Outliers came out right near the end of the terrible recession. During that time, many people were in debt and struggling to find ways to make money. In writing this book, Gladwell attempted to give people the hope that if they worked hard enough, they could achieve their goal. It was definitely a far-stretched goal for many due to age and lack of opportunity, but in a sense, it still encouraged people to work towards their peak performance. He explains that success can be achieved given the right opportunity and enough time willing to spent on improving one’s skills. Gladwell and other authors want to challenge the assumption that people are just born with natural talent. Gladwell is not the only person that has written something to challenge the belief. Geoff Colvin wrote a similar piece titled “Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers From Everyone Else.” His argument complements Gladwell’s, claiming that a person’s natural talent does not make them better than anyone else. Colvin expresses his dismay for answer to the timeless question: Why are some people excellent at what they do? “We still say, as Homer did, that great performers are inspired, meaning that their greatness was breathed into them by gods or muses. We still all say they have a gift, which is to say their greatness was given to them, for reasons no one can explain, by someone or something apart from themselves.” Colvin’s argument complements and extends Gladwell’s when Colvin claims that most of society has come to accept the belief that some are just born with innate talent, rarely questioning the logic behind the theory. Gladwell wants to put an end to that theory as well. He believes that natural talent does not make a person great, but the amount of time they spend mastering that talent is what defines greatness. Both Gladwell and Colvin have made an effort to challenge this belief in their books. The people reading these books are probably coming to terms with the fact that the theory of being born with natural ability should not be considered plausible. The audience likely viewed the authors’ words as informative and uplifting, finally realizing that a “natural ability” does not distinguish the good from the great. With that realization comes the desire to work for what they want to achieve. Obviously the audience does not now believe they will become billionaires, but with the right opportunity and practice, they could become more successful than they had initially thought. Both authors could surely influence a younger generation to think and approach situations in an innovative way.
Gladwell writes to a general audience that ranges from teenagers to college-educated people, all who are interested in their own and others peak performance, trying to challenge the belief that success is solely held to class, privilege and talent. While writing about Steve Jobs, Gladwell mentions that Jobs was not born into a wealthy lifestyle. It was a lucky coincidence that he moved to Silicone valley, a city that leads the world in innovative technology, engineering, and electronics. He attended flea markets where electronic lobbyists sold spare parts in a neighborhood filled with technology engineers. “While in high school, he boldly called Hewlett-Packard co-founder and president William Hewlett to ask for parts for a school project. Impressed by Jobs, Hewlett not only gave him the parts, but also offered him a summer internship at Hewlett-Packard” (Entrepreneur staff). There he met Steve Wozniak, and the rest is history. Even from an informational standpoint, the magazine claims that Jobs was lucky enough to receive more than one amazing opportunity that jumpstarted his career. When writing a history on Jobs’ life, the editorial mentions the extraordinary opportunity Steve had taken gotten at such a young age, complementing Gladwell’s reference to that opportunity is his book as a source to develop his claim. Both the Gladwell and the editorial affirm that without the luck and string of opportunities Jobs had received and taken advantage of, he probably would not have been as successful. It just goes to show that even with hard work and serious dedication, most people will not become billionaires. Even then, Jobs’ story will continue to inspire generations to come. It could spark a desire in many to continue improving the technological empire Jobs’ created.
In this job market, there is a very high demand for inventive people. To continue revolutionizing the world, symbolic analysts must identify, solve and broker new problems. The top tier of symbolic analysts include people like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Bill Joy, people who have completely revolutionized the way the world utilizes technology. Robert Reich has developed a theory as to why there is a higher need for symbolic analysts rather than workers in labor or retail. “The most important reason for expanding this world market and increasing global demand for the symbolic and analytic insights of Americans has been the dramatic improvement in worldwide communication and transportation technology.” (Reich 314) Reich claims that there is a worldwide demand for symbolic analysts such as the innovators Gladwell mentions in his book because symbolic analysts continue to find ways to communicate information to different parts of the world in hardly any time at all. Symbolic analysts add value and knowledge to information. They are constantly working to enhance software programs and upgrade hardware. While some may see this as a challenging job, many analysts would not even consider it work at all. Reich’s argument extends Gladwell’s claim by implying that hitting 10,000 hours of practice was no problem for the people Gladwell discusses in his book because most had developed a serious love for technology, becoming obsessed with working to improve it. Both Reich and Gladwell claim that a person could easily master a skill if they have the desire to practice it. Each of these famous technological visionaries that Gladwell mentions was given a small window of opportunity to change the way people use technology, establishing the rapid growth and advancement that is seen today. Gladwell tells the story behind the people that started the technological revolution, proving why people like them are in such high demand.
Throughout his book, Gladwell debates the common theory that a person’s natural talent and ability will lead them directly to success. With the introduction of the 10,000-hour rule, Gladwell tries to enlighten the audience that mastery of a skill only comes with hours and hours of practice. “Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.” (Gladwell 42) He goes on to explain that 10,000 hours is an enormous amount of time that someone could only reach if they have been given a special opportunity. With that in mind, Gladwell tells the stories of the few that had been lucky enough to receive such an opportunity. His argument lies true to those who can see the distinct connection between each of the people he had mentioned. While many do not believe that year of birth matters in any way, Gladwell proved its significance with his clever evidence and analysis. By doing so, his argument was very plausible. When developing his claim, he used relevant and credible sources; he interviewed Bill Gates himself and used excerpts from Steve Jobs’ biography, Accidental Millionaire. He makes deductions from the sources that specifically complement his theory, cherry-picking the parts that reinforce his claim. But he does mention plenty more famous people that support his evidence; he lists a good number of highly successful technological innovators that were born during that same time period, sufficiently reinforcing his claim, even though it may be slightly biased. Gladwell mentions how Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and others put a tremendous amount of hard work and dedication into mastering their skill, but with credible evidence and information, concludes that they would not have been as successful if they had not been given an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Gladwell, Malcolm. “10,000-Hour Rule.” Outliers: The Story of Success. New York: Little, Brown and, 2008. 35-68. Print.
Reich, Robert B. “Why the Rich Are Getting Richer and the Poor, Poorer.” The Work of Nations: Preparing Ourselves for 21st-century Capitalism. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1991. 208-22. Print.
Staff, Entrepreneur. “Steve Jobs: An Extraordinary Career.” Entrepreneur. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Oct. 2013.
Colvin, Geoffrey. Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-class Performers from Everybody Else. New York: Portfolio, 2008. Print.