Those three things - autonomy, complexity, and a connection between effort and reward - are, most people will agree, the three qualities that work has to have if it is to be satisfying.
...If you work hard enough and assert yourself, and use your mind and imagination, you can shape the world to your desires. (151).
In fact, researchers have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise: ten thousand hours.
Once a musician has enough ability to get into a top music school, the thing that distinguishes one performer from another is how hard he or she works. That's it. And what's more, the people at the very top don't work just harder or even much harder than everyone else. They work much, much harder.
The lesson here is very simple. But it is striking how often it is overlooked. We are so caught in the myths of the best and the brightest and the self-made that we think outliers spring naturally from the earth. We look at the young Bill Gates and marvel that our world allowed that thirteen-year-old to become a fabulously successful entrepreneur. But that's the wrong lesson. Our world only allowed one thirteen-year-old unlimited access to a time sharing terminal in 1968. If a million teenagers had been given the same opportunity, how many more Microsofts would we have today?.
Hard work is a prison sentence only if it does not have meaning. Once it does, it becomes the kind of thing that makes you grab your wife around the waist and dance a jig. (150).
I want to convince you that these kinds of personal explanations of success don't work. People don't rise from nothing....It is only by asking where they are from that we can unravel the logic behind who succeeds and who doesn't.
Cultural legacies are powerful forces. They have deep roots and long lives. They persist, generation after generation, virtually intact, even as the economic and social and demographic conditions that spawned them have vanished, and they play such a role in directing attitudes and behavior that we cannot make sense of our world without them.
We overlook just how large a role we all play--and by 'we' I mean society--in determining who makes it and who doesn't.
Success is not a random act. It arises out of a predictable and powerful set of circumstances and opportunities.
Superstar lawyers and math whizzes and software entrepreneurs appear at first blush to lie outside ordinary experience. But they don't. They are products of history and community, of opportunity and legacy. Their success is not exceptional or mysterious. It is grounded in a web of advantages and inheritances, some deserved, some not, some earned, some just plain lucky--but all critical to making them who they are. The outlier, in the end, is not an outlier at all.
Success is a function of persistence and doggedness and the willingness to work hard for twenty-two minutes to make sense of something that most people would give up on after thirty seconds.
To build a better world we need to replace the patchwork of lucky breaks and arbitrary advantages today that determine success--the fortunate birth dates and the happy accidents of history--with a society that provides opportunities for all.
My earliest memories of my father are of seeing him work at his desk and realizing that he was happy. I did not know it then, but that was one of the most precious gifts a father can give his child.
The values of the world we inhabit and the people we surround ourselves with have a profound effect on who we are.
Those three things - autonomy, complexity and a connection between effort and reward - are, most people agree, the three qualities that work has to have if it is to be satisfying. It is not how much money we make that ultimately makes us happy between nine and five. It's whether our work fulfills us.
It wasn't an excuse. It was a fact. He'd had to make his way alone, and no one—not rock stars, not professional athletes, not software billionaires, and not even geniuses — ever makes it alone.
We cling to the idea that success is a simple function of individual merit and that the world in which we all grow up and the rules we choose to write as a society don't matter at all.
It is those who are successful, in other words, who are most likely to be given the kinds of special opportunities that lead to further success.
The particular skill that allows you to talk your way out of a murder rap, or convince your professor to move you from the morning to the afternoon section, is what the psychologist Robert Sternberg calls "practical intelligence." To Sternberg, practical intelligence includes things like "knowing what to say to whom, knowing when to say it, and knowing how to say it for for maximum effect.
Outliers are those who have been given opportunities—and who have had the strength and presence of mind to seize them.
No one-not rock stars, not professional athletes, not software billionaires, and not even geniuses-ever makes it alone.
Achievement is talent plus preparation. The problem with this view is that the closer psychologists look at the careers of the gifted, the smaller the role innate talent seems to play and the bigger the role preparation seems to play.
IQ is a measure, to some degree, of innate ability. But social savvy is knowledge. It's a set of skills that have to be learned. It has to come from somewhere, and the place where we seem to get these kinds of attitudes and skills is from our families.
The conventional explanation for Jewish success, of course, is that Jews come from a literate, intellectual culture. They are famously "the people of the book." There is surely something to that. But it wasn't just the children of rabbis who went to law school. It was the children of garment workers. And their critical advantage in climbing the professional ladder wasn't the intellectual rigor you get from studying the Talmud. It was the practical intelligence and savvy you get from watching your father sell aprons on Hester Street.
the tallest oak in the forest is the tallest not just because it grew from the hardiest acorn; it is the tallest also because no other trees blocked its sunlight, the soil around it was deep and rich, no rabbit chewed through its bark as a sapling, and no lumberjack cut it down before it matured.
Western communication has what linguists call a "transmitter orientation"--that is, it is considered the responsibility of the speaker to communicate ideas clearly and unambiguously. ...within a Western cultural context, which holds that if there is confusion, it is the fault of the speaker. But Korea, like many Asian countries, is receiver oriented. It is up to the listener to make sense of what is being said.
The poorer children were, to her mind, often better behaved, less whiny, more creative in making use of their own time, and have a well-developed sense of independence.
general intelligence and practical intelligence are "orthogonal": the presence of one doesn't imply the presence of the other.
[Chris Langan] told me not long ago. "I found if I go to bed with a question on my mind, all I have to do is concentrate on the question before I go to sleep and I virtually always have the answer in the morning. Sometimes I realize what the answer is because I dreamt the answer and I can remember it. Other times I just feel the answer, and I start typing and the answer emerges onto the page.
Everything we have learned in Outliers says that success follows a predictable course. It is not the brightest who succeed. If it were, Chris Langan would be up there with Einstein. Nor is success simply the sum of the decisions and efforts we make on our own behalf. It is, rather, a gift. Outliers are those who have been given opportunities—and who have had the strength and presence of mind to seize them.
The people who stand before kings may look like they did it all by themselves. But in fact they are invariably the beneficiaries of hidden advantages and extraordinary opportunities and cultural legacies that allow them to learn and work hard and make sense of the world in ways others cannot. It makes a difference where and when we grew up.
We pretend that success is exclusively a matter of individual merit. But there's nothing in any of the histories we've looked at so far to suggest things are that simple. These are stories, instead, about people who were given a special opportunity to work really hard and seized it, and who happened to come of age at a time when that extraordinary effort was rewarded by the rest of society. Their success was not just of their own making. It was a product of the world in which they grew up.
Flom had the same experience...He didn't triumph over adversity. Instead, what started out as adversity ended up being an opportunity.
You master mathematics if you are willing to try. That’s what Schoenfeld attempts to teach his students.