Friday, January 20, 2012

"Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell Book Review

I first heard about the book titled “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell while in service this past summer. My pastor made mention of the book and stated it was a good read for the next generation. I intended to read the book then; but forgot, until recently remembering while at the community library.  It is no secret that the community library is one of my favorite places to spend time. I find that the quiet environment and vast amount of information available at my fingertips creates a very creative and productive working environment. Anyway, back to my point! To my surprise, only one of the many copies the library owned was still on the shelf. I quickly grabbed the book and went home to read. I blew through the first three chapters and was not able to put the book down. There are many interesting points that the author discusses within the book that outline factors that distinguish those who dominate in their area of expertise from those that do not. I wanted to take the time to share a few key points that I thought were interesting and encourage you to read the book.

First, let us start with the definition of an outlier (p.3):

1: something that is situated away from or classed differently from a main or related body
2: a statistical observation that is markedly different in value from the others of the sample

It does not take rocket science to indentify people the book classed as an outlier. Just in case, you were wondering, people such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and the Beatles are among that group. However, with a little common sense, you can identify many who were not mentioned such as Oprah that fit the criteria associated with being an outlier. I do not want to give away the entire book because there are other underlying factors that show commonality in the lives of outliers.

 For example, in chapter two, titled “The 10,000- Hour Rule”. According to Gladwell and researchers (2008), “the magic number for true expertise: 10,000 hours” (p. 40). One can draw many conclusions as to the validity of this hypothesis, but I believe the chapter and book as a whole offers clear-cut facts to support this idea. In fact, “the emerging picture from such studies is that ten thousand hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert— in anything” (Neurologist Daniel Levitin, 2008, p. 40).

This was such an interesting idea that I took it upon myself to read several short autobiographies of those who I considered true experts in their field to test the theory. I have to admit that, I too found that the majority of those who are known as experts in anything, worked to achieve success at a level that many are not willing to do. Gladwell states according to Neurologist Daniel Levitin (2008) that, “In study after study, of composers, basketball players, fiction writers, ice skaters, concert pianist, chess players, master criminals, and what have you, this number comes up again and again…but no one had yet found a case in which true world class expertise was accomplished in less time. It seems that it takes the brain this long to assimilate all that it needs to know to achieve true mastery” (p. 40). 

In my opinion, that is what separates outliers from average people. The story of (your) success or achieving greatness at whatever you feel you are called to do is not achieved over night…as media and reality television likes to paint otherwise! That means there are no shortcuts to lasting success and mastery in your field. If you read the stories of these individuals and many like them, you will conclude that it takes hard work, sleepless nights, dedication, favor, being at the right place at the right time and the attitude that of I will keep pushing no matter what obstacle I face. In that case, I had better get busy if I want to be classified among the great!

I hope I sparked your interest in reading this book…very good read! Please click on the link ( The author answers questions and explains in more detail what “Outliers” is about. The site also includes excerpts from the book (including the 10,000 Hour Rule) and details about other books from the Gladwell Collection. Lastly, please see the “Speak Your Piece” section displaying video clips (located in the upper right corner) from the author. Enjoy!

I appreciate your comments. 


  1. Good Review! I read this book a year ago and found it to be a good read too. I want to read "Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking", but my schedule has not given me any room to do so. I am hoping that all my hard work and dedication to my career will add up to 10,000 hours, so I can be considered a world-class expert at something :).

  2. Smiling...that's you and me both! I really enjoyed this book and am glad that I am getting feedback that my subscribers have read this book and others by this author. I would like to read "Blink" too. I heard that it was a good read and very interesting. Hopefully, I will be able to read it soon. I will keep you posted.