Is there a secret to success? Outliers by Malcom Gladwell

What does it it take to build success in the world we live in?

Many of us never stop asking ourselves the question, and we tend to struggle to find an answer. Understanding who we are, where we come from, and what we can do with the time we have is a huge part of following our dreams and creating the life we want to live.

Outliers might be the book you need to understand the mechanisms behind success – it details how some of the most successful people made it to where they are today, and what you can do to replicate their achievements for yourself.


There are three main ideas you should keep in mind as you fix yourself to the path of success. Time, opportunity, and knowing who you are. 

It takes about 10,000 hours to be a master at whatever it is you do in life. This is true all throughout history. The Beatles for example would not have become such multi-genre geniuses had it not been for the days and weeks they put in practicing and playing shows. It took hard work and dedication to build the level of momentum that they did, especially in the amount of time that they did it.

Their trip to Hamburg, Germany as rock and roll musicians was by far the best thing that could’ve happened to them.
John Lennon speaks about one of their shows at a strip club in Hamburg in an interview, saying
“We got better and got more confidence. We couldn’t help it with all the experience playing all night long. It was handy them being foreign. We had to try even harder, put our heart and soul into it, to get ourselves over.”
He compares this to his time in Liverpool, saying
“In Liverpool, we’d only ever done one-hour sessions, and we just used to do our best numbers, the same ones, at every one. In Hamburg, we had to play for eight hours, so we really had to find a new way of playing.”

Starting as just high school kids dishing out raw-talent as a rock band, the Beatles climbed their ladder to success in the most rewarding of ways. By the mid 1960s they had performed almost 1,200 times, making their knowledge and expertise shoot through the roof early in their career.

The Beatles aren’t the only ones that started as little fanatics though. In fact, Bill Gates started computer programming when he was just in the eighth grade. He even ended up dropping out of Harvard to start his own computer company. “Through sheer brilliance and ambition and guts,” the book says, he built Microsoft into “the giant of the software world.” Bill Gates was practicing for long hours after school, and had been averaging 8 hours of computer time daily in 1971.
“Those five years, from eighth grade through the end of high school, were Bill Gate’s Hamburg, and by any measure, he was presented with an even more extraordinary series of opportunities than Bill Joy.”

Bill Joy is an internet legend as the creator of Java. He says,
“If you put your Mac in that funny mode where you can see the code, I see things that I remember typing in twenty-five years ago.” Joy is the author of a lot of the software that we see on the internet now and look at how much joy he has brought us today because of it! (Did you catch that? *wink wink*)

25 years have past since he was granted the ground-braking opportunity of a lifetime – of his lifetime. Finishing his time at Berkeley and co-founding Silicon Valley firm Sun Microsystems was the best thing he could’ve done for his career. It helped lay the ground work for the very computer systems we see in front of us today.

We might wonder how all of these ideas an opportunities came into fruition. The answer is simple.

Passion and hard work.

“Research suggests,” as stated in Outliers, “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 woks. 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.”

Nothing worth worker for comes easy. It is all done through time, opportunity, and due diligence. If you’re willing to put in the time and hard work it takes to succeed, then you should have no problem making it in the free world, and realizing your true destiny.

It’s always beneficial to leap into action, but whilst doing this you must know yourself, because knowing is half the battle.

Understanding our origins and who we are as people plays an integral role in how we interact with the people in the world around us. This understanding is based in our culture, in our upbringing, to who we are socially and to how we react in times of trial or tribulation.

Cultural miscommunication is one thing that can cause immense problems. There was one instance in the book that details these sorts of problems in air traffic control. The pilot tries to tell air traffic controllers that he’s low on fuel, but he doesn’t know how to do it in a way that isn’t challenging or offensive. After a controller asks if everything is good for landing, the pilot says,
“I guess so. Thank you very much”
These aren’t words to use in a high-risk situation like that. Now there are hundreds of lives in danger, The book continues to describe the horror of the situation in the interaction between the Captain and the pilot,
“Captain Caviedes then turns to Klotz.
Caviedes: What did he say?
Klotz: The guy is angry.
Angry! Klotz’s feelings are hurt! His plane is moments from disaster. But he cannot escape the dynamic dictated to him by his culture in which subordinates must respect the dictates of their superiors. In his min, he has tried and failed to communicate his plight, and his only conclusion is that he must have somehow offended his superior in the control tower.”

We must not fall victim to our cultural differences.
“Our ability to succeed at what we do is powerfully bound up with where we’re from, and being a good pilot and coming from a high-power distance culture is a difficult mix.”

Understanding how people work together is extremely important to building success. Whether you’re a diligent worker, or a slight slacker, or just on a day-to-day type of individual, your ethnic origins run within you, and you have the power to alter and change it at your leisure.

Part of the goal of success is to conquer your inner conscious. Know yourself, work hard, and manage your time wisely. Drive yourself toward the success you want to see today.

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