Are you an “Outlier” ?!?

Originally published in LinkedIn on September 10, 2015 (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/you-outlier-pedro-faria)

Those of you with whom I might have been in a chat this year will perhaps remember me quoting some of the fine wisdom observed in “Outliers: The Story of Success”, by Malcolm Gladwell. I read the book this year on a Kobo device, I’m not sure if it was the original version from 2008 or in fact if there are any additional ones, you can correct me on that.

In statistics, an outlier is an observation point that is distant from other observations [excerpt from the Wiki page]

The book is profoundly supported in historical facts, with many many references to society, business and technological chronology. If you are like me you will love it. Mr. Gladwell is prolific providing examples of how our life path begins, slowly but steadily. Sometimes at a very young age, starting with childhood influences, social connections, accumulated experience(s) and — needless to say — merit. He then explains why all this might not be enough… You still need chance on your side. You might still need to look for it and make it happen.

I have had my share of books read related to business, leadership, success and so on, and I must say this book has shed light and helped me fill in the gaps on my own understanding of the (global) society and the world as we know it also on a personal level. I admit I feel a strong empathy with the book — how it was structured (research and examples) and how it presents (obvious and less obvious) conclusions. I was terrified in amazement of how much of what is said is right there, in your face. This is not to say that Mr. Gladwell did not had a heck of a time crunching numbers after numbers after report after registry. But, somewhere along that path, he must have known he was on to something.

“This is a book about outliers, about men and women who do things that are out of the ordinary” [excerpt from the book]

Finishing his book, Mr. Gladwell kind of reminded me why we should not jump at conclusions about the path of success (or even partial success) of an successful individual, even if the media that surrounds us makes a damn good job trying to…

Gladwell argues that the true story of success is very different, and that if we want to understand how some people thrive, we should spend more time looking around them-at such things as their family, their birthplace, or even their birth date [excerpt from gladwell.com]

Perhaps you are already familiar with the “10.000 hour rule” or all the great steps towards building a successful future, and you know we could go on about it. But I want to look over that. I want to speak about the second effect of the book (maybe it is really the first?), I want to speak about that taste in the mouth after you took the last byte.

“The biggest misconception about success is that we do it solely on our smarts, ambition, hustle and hard work” [M. Gladwell, excerpt from USA Today]

One of the most interesting tool this book provides — that I can bring to this post — are definetely related to my job, and deeply related to the mind-blowing art of human resources management. Because what you learn in this book will for sure trick your mind the next time you evaluate a candidate, or last year commitment of someone you are leading. And because successful people help make successful companies, this is a subject you definitely want to keep your eye on!

Needless to say I recommend reading it… Feel free to comment and give me your own feedback about this book, or others related. I would love also to hear/read comments about other titles from the same author, I have not yet read anything else from him.

Thanks for the comments! Enjoy!

Pedro Faria