Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Outliers – book review

Outliers (Author: Malcolm Gladwell) is one of the very few applied psychology books of its genre that I liked. Over the past few years, my taste in books has changed. My initial love for detective novels and suspense thriller genre made way for fantasy and romance books for a while. I have also read a lot of self help, management and economics books.

I borrowed this book from a friend of mine with a lot of trepidation as I am now extremely wary of some of these business books. Some of the books I read recently that left a very bad after taste in my mouth are The World is flat, Tipping Point, 7 habits of Highly Effective People. I find them quite boring after the first 50 pages as I get the sense that the author is trying very hard to make a 200-300 page book out of what is merely a maximum of 50 page research paper. The stories and examples the authors give to substantiate their reasoning get quite tiring and repetitive after sometime. Either that or the book gets into a “preaching” mode which puts me off even more.

Anyway, getting back to Outliers, this book was a refreshing change. It is based on the simple theme that it is not just hard work or super brains and intelligence that separates highly successful people from the others. It is a mix of circumstances, environment, opportunities and also “luck” that makes one person a success while the lives of the rest of us are nothing to remember by. The author looks into the unique circumstances that have led to the success of some of the famous software personalities like Bill Gates, soccer players, musicians like Beatles and Mozart. He believes that it is not what they are like that matters but where they are from that truly makes the difference.

If you are like me, and if you go to work every day not because you enjoy the intellectual stimulation or challenge that your job offers but because of the paycheck that you get at the end of the month and to some extent because you can socialize and meet new people and if like me, you are always thinking of quitting the said job to do something worthwhile and interesting in life that impacts the lives of others in a positive way, this book is a true inspiration. At the end of the book, I was left feeling a lot of hope that there might still be some unique circumstances that might one day make me famousJ. I didn’t feel that much of a loser and my life didn’t feel that wasted either. I consoled myself that I am smart and I am also more hardworking than some of the people I have encountered in my life. It is just the lack of a unique set of circumstances and opportunities that is to blame for my mediocre work life.

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