The notion of exceptional achievement as being the product of individual pursuit should be closely examined. Institutions and organizations must reflect on how human potential can be "capitalized" to create the opportunity for real innovation. Without time, the right atmosphere and the ability to fail potential is often lost. Cultural legacy and the 10 thousand hour rule are just a few of the concepts Gladwell addresses in his new book Outliers - The Story of Success. From Mozart to Picasso to Fleetwood Mac, Malcolm's argument that exceptional outcomes are a product of the environment is compelling. In his theories lie many of the solutions to attaining great achievement for industries and people. Collaboration, openness and patience are the stuff of how we can embrace the potential available today to all via the revolution. See his brief talk at a recent conference to learn more.
After visiting Gladwell's book Outliers again in advance of his keynote at IHRSA in 2010, these further points came to mind.
Gladwell’s book Outliers confronts the American myth of the self-made person. The book is a story about the context in which success takes place: family, culture, friendship, childhood, accidents of birth, history and geography. "It's not enough to ask what successful people are like," Gladwell writes. "It is only by asking where they are from that we can unravel the logic behind who succeeds and who doesn't."
Outliers asserts that genius isn't the most important thing - environment is as essential. Gladwell uses the unusual story of Christopher Langan, who despite an IQ of 195, worked on a horse farm in rural Missouri. Why did he not become a nuclear rocket surgeon? Langan's life had little to help him capitalize on his exceptional gifts. "He had to make his way alone," Gladwell writes, "and no one — not rock stars, not professional athletes, not software billionaires, and not even geniuses — ever makes it alone."
One could interpret Outliers in a number of ways. In the end its points is to make geniuses look a little less special and the rest of us a bit more so. Outliers wasn't intended as autobiography, Gladwell says. "But you could read it as an extended apology for my success.”