My Commentary on Outliers

People don’t rise from nothing. We do owe something to parentage and patronage.

Success follows a predictable course. It is not the brightest who succeed, but those who put in more efforts than everybody else. Some people don’t outsmart you, they happen to out-learn you.

Being good at maths is not related to IQs. It is a matter of cultural legacy. Chinese, Japanese and Koreans are good at maths because of their cultural legacy. The aspects of their cultural legacy are language. If a kid in the West has to perform addition of two numbers 21 and 32, say, he would add ones place first and then add the tens place thereafter along with carry generated from adding ones place (if generated). In Asian languages, 21 is two-ten-one and 32 is three-ten-two. So addition becomes five-ten-three. The counting system is highly logical.

Working students too hard would create a most pernicious influence upon character and habits and blunt their natural abilities…not infrequently is health itself destroyed by over-stimulating the mind.

What redeems the life of those involving hard work is the nature of work. It should be meaningful.

The peasants of Europe worked essentially as low-paid slaves of an aristocratic landlord, with little control over their own destinies. But China and Japan never developed that kind of oppressive feudal system, because feudalism simply can’t work in a rice economy.

“If God does not bring it, the earth will not give it” is a typical Russian proverb. That’s the kind of fatalism and pessimism typical of a repressive feudal system, where peasants have no reason to believe in the efficacy of their own work. On the other hand, Chinese proverbs are striking in their belief that “hard work, shrewd planning and self-reliance or cooperation with a small group will in time bring recompense.”

When the work is meaningful, there is clever relationship between effort and reward. The more you work, the more you yield.

“Your work is gonna fill a large part of your life and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work and the only way to great work is to love what you do.” — Steve Jobs

One doesn’t need gleaming facilities and better resources to succeed. All these things would be nice. One just needs a chance. To make a better world, we need a society that provides opportunities for all.

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