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In the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell the author exclaims, “In Outliers, I want to convince you that these kinds of personal explanations of success don’t work. People don’t rise from nothing”. This demonstrates Gladwell’s purpose which is to change the world’s mind on how success does not happen overnight, it requires effort, opportunity, and help. Towards the end of the book, Gladwell begins talking about his own success that emerges from the hidden advantages and multiple opportunities that his parents and grandparents received, which is where his purpose for the book really begins. Moreover, Gladwell’s strategic organizational choice for Outliers is set by various examples. In each chapter, there are different reasons why people become successful. By choosing this organization, Gladwell makes it easy for the reader to acknowledge what he is saying. Malcolm Gladwell mentioning his own family story provides more reasoning on his purpose since it is based on a true story.
To begin with, Gladwell’s purpose of the book, Outliers is that one has to be given opportunities, be born at the right time, have the right cultural background, and have the help from others in order to become successful. An example that Gladwell states is one of the successful geniuses well known, Bill Gates who was given opportunities in order to accomplish his discovery of computer programming. As discussed in Outliers, Gates was not made successful himself. After school, he would go to an office to work on programming, but after they went bankrupt, Gates and his friends started going to the University of Washington’s library. The number of hours that Bill Gates and his friends stayed at the library accumulated to more than 10,000 hours of experience, but then again, he was not alone. Gates had his friends, parents, and the school’s help to become very successful. Moreover, Gladwell mentioning his family story towards the end of the book, it makes his purpose for the book more realistic to the reader since it contains real-life experience. In the excerpt, “A Jamaican Story,” it talks about a major civil strife in Jamaica as a possible contributor to his own current success. In addition, Gladwell describes the success of his own family as a series of lucky breaks that were not clearly designed to reach the current state. All the way from his great-great-great grandmother picking sugarcane in the plantations of Jamaica to his mother being a successful writer in Canada. This just shows how one can come from a tough background, yet receive an opportunity that can make one succeed even with those challenges, which is Gladwell’s point.
Next, throughout Outliers, Gladwell uses a specific structural organization. For each point Gladwell makes, he offers a story about success and follows it with a breakdown of the factors that caused such a fortune. An example of this use of organization is when Gladwell begins discussing The Beatles. Gladwell mentions where The Beatles originated which were full of strip clubs and bars, so they always had interesting gigs because their city lacked rock’n’roll bars. After a few years, they were sent to Hamburg, Germany and that is where George Harrison and Ringo Starr met John Lennon and Paul McCartney, who formerly had a tiny “band” themselves. They discovered each other’s dreams of becoming a rock band and created The Beatles and with more practice, they became very popular. Moreover, they would not have achieved the dreams that they wanted if it was not for the club gigs and their selection to perform in Hamburg. They had each other and the club owners supporting them. The reason why Gladwell’s family story helps this example is because Gladwell’s fate relied on a white man who had raped his great-great-great grandmother repeatedly, causing her to have a Mulatto son enough for him to avoid slavery. The riots based on racism in Jamaica allowed his mother to pursue the aspiration of education. Also, the courtesy of Mr. Chance lending her money for the University had helped shape the success in the family. Gladwell states “It takes no small degree of humility for him to look back on his life and say, ‘I was very lucky’”. This demonstrates how Gladwell and his family were very lucky to accept such great opportunities along their way. It was the dedication and the luck that granted Gladwell’s family to success, similar to the Beatles.
In addition, there are various principles represented to the reader. The “10,000-Hour Rule” is very important during the book since it is the most common ways people get the most successful at what they do. Gladwell discusses the success story of Bill Joy who went to the University of Michigan in 1971. Joy happened to come across the newly added computer center that had the most advanced systems installed and he was “hooked”. Moreover, the fact that Michigan was one of the very few that had time-sharing system computers and made it available 24/7, Joy was able to practice programming all day and night which enabled him to practice a lot more than most people in that time. Gladwell goes on to explain that no matter how talented one is and if they do not put enough practice in, they will not excel in their field. The “10,000-Hour Rule” really spoke to me in various ways. For example, during 5th grade, I started playing the clarinet. At just 12 years old, I was already joining in many extracellular activities. Since I never played an instrument before, I was very hesitant about even joining the school band thinking I was going to be awful no matter how much I practiced. Eventually, the school band teacher made me realize that I should practice a lot and even gave me some sheet music so I can achieve being a good clarinet player.
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