Geniuses and Outsiders. Why some have everything and others have nothing - Malcolm Gladwell

About the book "Geniuses and Outsiders. Why some have it all and others have nothing" by Malcolm Gladwell, I found out by accident, from the comments on geektimes. I decided to share my impression by writing a short review.

Firstly, I must say that this book is not a universal guide "how to achieve success". On the contrary, the book talks about how difficult everything is in this world (which, by the way, may only be doubted by constant reposters of "success diaries").

First of all, it discusses the enormous influence of the environment on great personalities. No, don't think that they were just lucky. In reality, it's not enough to just have the necessary set of personal qualities, just as it's not enough to simply end up in a favorable environment. All of this has to happen simultaneously. The author analyzes the personalities of Bill Gates, Bill Joy, and others, provides historical examples.

The second key idea of the book is the so-called "10,000-hour rule", which allows (in my opinion) to refuse help to those who don't strive for anything, aren't ready to make an effort, and choose the path of least resistance. The author proves that not only does a person have to be lucky with the environment, but they also have to constantly work on themselves and their work, and unless they accumulate more than 10,000 hours, there can be no talk of any achievements (history doesn't know any such cases). Examples of Mozart and other famous personalities are provided. If a person thinks they can "learn English by spending 20 minutes a day", then I have bad news for them.

It's somehow common in our education system, or maybe in people's mentality, that many think something like: "I'm such an unhappy person, I will never be able to do anything, because... because. There's Vanya/Petya, they're lucky, they can do everything, unlike me..." At the same time, a person can't evaluate what Vanya/Petya went through in order to succeed, how many hours a day they spent developing their skills - because from the outside, everything seems so simple: Vanya/Petya miraculously solves a given task in an instant. However, there are only two reasons why another person can't solve this task:

  1. The person is spending their effort on developing another skill. In this case, they are unlikely to care about why they can't do something else.
  2. Laziness. The person isn't developing anything. Indeed, who is willing to spend over 900010,000 hours of their life on self-improvement? Our brain doesn't work like that - it will constantly resist. This is exactly why the next key point is so important - enthusiasm.

So, I think enthusiasm is needed precisely in order to overcome the psychological barrier that prevents us from doing something. The brain is happier when engaged in something that brings clear satisfaction. If you persistently force yourself, procrastination is highly likely to occur. And that's exactly where enthusiasm comes in handy. If a person really enjoys what they do, it will be much easier for them to accumulate 10,000 hours.

The author also talks about the problem of excessive politeness in society, which has caused the deaths of tens of thousands of people. However, it's not quite clear how this relates to the main theme of the book. (Junior pilots cannot directly tell their superiors/dispatchers about the true situation on board the plane, using softening phrases and politely hinting at problems, instead of explicitly stating them, and this is one of the reasons for aviation disasters, which airlines are fighting against).

The last important point that the author emphasizes is the so-called "cult of ignorance". It's quite clear with this as well. It's easier to control poorly educated people (and we're not talking about diplomas, "higher education", or other formal things) because they are happier. A poorly educated person is happier. Without using "softening words", we can say that the further a person goes in self-development, the lonelier they become (the tail of the normal distribution if you understand what I mean). Most people stop in the middle. The deeper into the woods, the more... oxygen there is. But at the same time, the crowd will hate you.

Let's sum up. =) According to the book, in order to achieve a goal, you need to "just":

  1. Be born at the right time in the right place so you are surrounded by the right people and favorable circumstances
  2. Spend over 10,000 hours
  3. Love what you do and be persistent
  4. Subscribe to a couple dozen business quote pages and repost at least a few every day

And in this, I fully agree with the author.