Sun, 10 Dec, 2023

Outliers: The Story of Success

By Prakriti Shree Tuladhar

I started this book because it was suggested to me by someone I couldn’t refuse, but then finished the book in two days on my own accord. So needless to say, the book is a great page turner. One of the striking and probably the most talked about part of the book is a roster of the Canadian hockey team. The list looks simply like a list of players at first, but as you give it your full attention, you see that most of the players are born on the first six months of the calendar year, the reason being that the cut off age of the youth hockey is Jan 1. This reason may seem odd initially, but when you really look into it, you realize that the players born on Jan 1 play in the same league as the players born on Dec 31. So no doubt the children born earlier in the year have an advantage. They have better strength and better stamina. Then applying the golden ‘ rich get richer rule’,  the so called better children get better training and better advantages and soon the small differences between them increases till the older children reach a different level altogether. Surprised? I was too. But as I read the book further, these kinds of surprises became quite common with a new revelation in every other page. Whether it is the success of The Beatles or Bill Gates, or how two people with exceptional IQs end up having two very different fates, the book gives a reason to it all. Its main aim seems to be to prove that people become successful by default owing to their circumstances, their lineage and their culture. True, the book points out the 10000 hour rule (saying that a person needs 10000 hours to truly master anything) but it indirectly stresses on the point that a person has very less control on whether he becomes a success or a failure. Bill Gates wouldn’t have founded Microsoft had he been born 5 years earlier or later. If Chinese weren’t into rice paddy cultivation, most Chinese students wouldn’t be half as good as they are in math. And Korea would never have had a critical airline problem if their language was as informal as the English language. A quick research showed that the book has been criticized for its simplistic logic for many social phenomena. And in some cases, it is true. People do not work hard simply because their ancestors did so. But most people, me included, have found the book intriguing and worthy of the many praises it had received. In a nutshell, it’s a book I’d read again anytime and I suggest you give it a try too.