Outliers - Malcolm Gladwell

Posted by Durward Bartell
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Outliers - Malcolm Gladwell

I liked this book. It is very entertaining and very thought provoking. Malcolm Gladwell really found some meaningful links to what makes an Outlier an Outlier. I found myself listening to certain passages over and over just to digest some of the information he has gathered.

But, and this is a big but, Mr. Gladwell gets some major assumptions wrong. First of all, his position is that "individualism" is a myth. He says, "as Canadian's" we do not buy into "the myth of individualism". Wow! That's a really big gaff. Next, he believes that most success is really luck. He also says that the difference in the Outlier and everyone else is not that the Outlier worked hard, it's that the Outlier "was given the opportunity to work hard". Put on the brakes!!! Everyone is given the opportunity to work hard. The Outlier took the INITIATIVE to work hard. This is an individual trait.

For example, he uses the Beatles as an example. Even though they played in Germany 8 hours a day / 7 days a week, how many other bands did the same thing? How many of them achieved the fame of the Beatles? What about the sheer gift of talent that McCartney and Lenon had as songwriters? Again, individual traits.

He says "all great comedians are either Jewish or Black". While MOST are Jewish or Black, this is not universal, and it really demeans both groups by assuming that this is their greatest contribution to society. If he wrote this book 45 years ago, he may have said that all of the great athletes are white. See the danger and fallacy of his assumptions?

With all of these shortcomings, I still recommend this book. Anything that causes you to think and question gets my vote. Well done Mr. Gladwell, but don't overlook many success stories that were built with hard work, sacrifice and individual accomplishments. No one forced the Beatles to practice or to take up music. Luck didn't find you with this book, you worked on it. It was your idea. You pitched it to the publisher. Don't discount your own individual efforts.