Analysis Essay on “Outliers”
Malcolm Gladwell offers a definition of success that relates to a person’s status in terms of wealth, fame, and influence. Even though his rule contains firm grounds in terms of the several drives such as date of birth and family background that paves ways for attaining success, Gladwell openly dodges the value of determination and hard work. His theory for achieving success has some cogent, but he intentionally takes out the most important part of the person’s endeavor within his analyses. The key to success lies in the individual’s power to persist through setbacks and difficulties, but his theory is opposed to it. In the following analysis of Gladwell’s “Outliers,” the author’s definition and main argument will be examined as well as alternative views of success.
Gladwell begins his discussion by analyzing the elite Canadian hockey players’ dates of birth. It is apparent that 70 percent of the players are born in the year’s first quarter. Gladwell remarks, “It’s simply that in Canada the eligibility cutoff for age-class hockey is January 1st” (24). Physical maturity of the kids, who born in the first quarter of the year, can help them to perform better than the 364 days younger players. Therefore, he explained, “The best are the best because of the month in which they were born” (Gladwell). Even though his statement is logical, it sabotages people who deliberately open up the opportunities because of their pertinacious personality. For example, Oscar Pistorius is a paraplegic and makes history by participating and winning in the 400 M Sprint and the 4 x 400 relay in the London 2012 Olympics. Pistorius’ dedication and persistent determination are the strength that serves as evidence in how a person’s will can understand all presumptions and create history.
Gladwell states “practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing that makes you good” (42). He explains another definition that 1000 hours is an amount of practice time for an individual to become great at something. Therefore, he or she can attain an anomalous success. To prove his definition, Gladwell takes the success story of the three well-known personalities: Bill Gates, Bill Roy, and Beatles. While applying his theory to the biography of Bill Gates, he brings out many memorable happenstances that inevitably gave Bill Gates the opportunities to practice programming and have free computer time. Bill Gates, in his interview with Gladwell, says, “I had a better exposure to software development because of an incredibly lucky series of events” (54-55). However, it is different in the case of Steve Vai, a guitarist. Like everyone, he gets encouragement from his parents. Still, he is ambitious that makes him to bring revolution in the style of playing guitar. Mr. Vai achieves in the field of his interest because he represents the way towards mastery through his ambitious nature and strength of his character.
Gladwell gives definition for success by approaching it in a different perspective. His definitions that conclude individual virtue alone is not the one that accords someone to be successful. Even though it seems unacceptable at some point of view, Gladwell’s data deserve recognition. However, he puts it in a way that can carry the readers to accept the new definition of success that is outside of grasp for the people who merely look for it. He thinks that the randomness of opportunities and advantages are the factors for defining “Outliers,” but every moment, every day, and every event is the world of randomness.