The Secrets to Success in The Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

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About this sample


Words: 1072 |

Pages: 2|

6 min read

Published: May 14, 2021

Words: 1072|Pages: 2|6 min read

Published: May 14, 2021

The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell, he redefines the secrets to success. Gladwell states that while an individual’s success can be achieved through innate talent and determination, it is mostly the result of a combination of external factors such as provided opportunities, enough practice, born privileges, and cultural norms. He incorporates evaluations of the Matthew Effect, the 10,000-Hour Rule, the backstory behind geniuses, and cultural legacies to support his concrete argument.

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The Matthew Effect talks about the role of opportunity in determining the success of athletes. In order to explain this phenomenon, Gladwell includes the player roster of the 2007 Medicine Hat Tigers (a Canadian ice hockey team) that includes their birth dates and noticed an unusual pattern about 68% of the athletes were born in the first four months of the year. This is not merely a coincidence, since the cause of this phenomenon is that the Canadian eligibility cutoff is January 1. Those who are born later than the cutoff are at a physical advantage over the rest of the players. Therefore, future coaches prefer the players who are at the physical advantage to be in the “rep teams,” and these select few athletes receive higher quality coaching and more practice. Since they possess the opportunity of an earlier birth, Gladwell utilizes this source to prove that it influences their chances of success as an athlete. The athletes who are the most successful in the industry are the ones born during the early months, because they receive better treatment and opportunities. In summary, being successful does not necessarily mean that it is developed through innate talent and determination, but also through the opportunities that are found.

The 10,000-Hour Rule explains that success is determined through an immense amount of practice. Available and accessible resources must support these hours of practice. Gladwell uses the personal example of Bill Joy to delve into this section of his argument. Gladwell begins to explain Joy’s personal story and the success he received later in life; he was granted various opportunities and the time to further his craft. When Joy was asked in an interview about how much time he spent on software development, he said: “ten thousand hours”. Using this source, Gladwell demonstrates the perception that spending 10,000 hours on a specific task increases one’s chances of success. Since Joy was given opportunities, and he was able to spend a significant amount of time on his work, he was able to fulfill the 10,000 hours he needed to perfect his occupation.

The trouble behind geniuses delves into the problem with those who are innately a genius their success is only possible with more than just their “gifts.” In order to develop this point of view, Gladwell provides a source from a famous experiment driven by Lewis Terman. Terman was invested in seeking out “young geniuses” (called Termites in this study) who had an IQ around 150 or above, and he decided to track them throughout their lives, listing their achievements, careers, and lives into adulthood. When the Termites reached adulthood, Terman went on to measure their success, filtering these “young geniuses” into three groups. The first group was called the “A” group, and they were the ones that went on to be truly successful in life the lawyers and doctors. The second group was the “B” group, and they were the middle group, doing “satisfactory.” The last group was called the “C” group, and they were unsuccessful laying at home on their couches, often unemployed. These results from the Terman experiment went on to explain the reasoning behind Gladwell’s theory; even those who are born “geniuses” do not go on to live successful lives, success is not measured through intelligence alone.

Within The Outliers, Gladwell explains that cultural legacy is an essential factor in achieving success. Our cultural legacy determines the relationship between individual people, such as how they address one another. When examining these different cultural legacies, it is easier to determine what leads to success. To further this concept, Gladwell inserts a source that pertains to Korean Air. This source is a flight recorder transcript (last 30 minutes) that refers to the Korean Air flight 801 crash in Guam. It describes the consequences of cultural norms on emergencies such as the one experienced on this flight. Although there were a variety of other factors that caused this accident, one of the most prominent was the cultural norm of honorifics used in South Korea. The pilot was unable to interpret the situation as an emergency because the lower officials were more focused on following the social custom of honorifics. In the transcript, there was an incident in which the first officer had to tell the pilot about the tragic consequences when flying in the weather, and instead of emphasizing the urgency, all he says is, “Don’t you think it rains more? In this area, here?”. He is only able to hint at the danger because that is the extent, culturally, in which he can speak to his superior, the pilot. The only solution for Korean Air’s eventual success was to discard the honorifics between the superiors and lower officers, and this solution was proven correct when David Greenberg introduced English as the language for communication, which improved communication. As a result, Korean Airlines were successful in preventing future crashes. About Gladwell’s argument, the cultural norm within South Korea determined how successful Korean Air became.

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Each specific source had some aspect of opportunity related to it. Both the Matthew Effect and 10,000 Hour Rule mentioned the addition of opportunities that furthered an individual’s success. When exploring the relationship between success and innate talent, an individual had to be presented with opportunities such as working for a well-known company in order to grow their success. The example of the Korean Airlines presented a different point of view in which cultural norms and societal structures presented an influence over the success of a company. Although, when mentioning successes that are singular such as Bill Joy’s, it provides a close look at the various factors that worked to grow his success. Overall, these sources were all connected to the influence that each factor had on success. They were all able to sum up the different factors that place an influence over the possibilities of success. It is not just about the innate talent and drive one has; it carries exceptional opportunities, more than 10,000 hours of practice, and cultural legacies.

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The Secrets To Success In The Outliers By Malcolm Gladwell. (2021, May 14). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 29, 2024, from
“The Secrets To Success In The Outliers By Malcolm Gladwell.” GradesFixer, 14 May 2021,
The Secrets To Success In The Outliers By Malcolm Gladwell. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 29 May 2024].
The Secrets To Success In The Outliers By Malcolm Gladwell [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2021 May 14 [cited 2024 May 29]. Available from:
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