I recently read the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. In the book, the author discusses how success is more about collaboration and hard work than intelligence. As a result, professional achievement and advancement are available to those who work hard and pursue each opportunity they find. This book has informed me of how I can make changes in my own life: discover my passions about and practice them feverously, be in an environment that encourages learning and creativity, and surround myself with supportive people. I believe there are several theories discussed in the book that are relevant to my potential MBA education.
One of the most important lessons throughout the book is the value of hard work. In order to be great at anything you have to put in the time and effort to improve. Gladwell’s theorizes that success is associated more with hard work than talent or intelligence. I strongly agree with this theory. The most successful people work a great deal harder than those who are less successful. Gladwell argues that the 10,000 hour rule is what separates the good from the truly great in any field. In order to master a skill, you need to invest 10,000 hours, that is three hours of work per day or 20 hours per week for ten years. He credits the success of prodigies like Bill Gates, Mozart and the Beatles to this rule. Gates, certainly had a knack for computing, but in the end his successes were a result of his 10,000 hours of hard work.
At first glance, the hour rule may seem unattainable for someone looking to start a new career or develop a new skill. It is important for people to realize they can reinvent themselves and that being good at something does not require an innate gift. The hour rule verifies that a person can change; he or she just has to put in the necessary time to master their skills. This is exactly the type of mentality and hard work I intend to bring to my studies if accepted into the MBA program. Being a student in the MBA program at USC would also give me an advantage in building experience hours, as I hope to become an expert in marketing and master the skills necessary to be a success.
Building upon the values of hard work and practice, Gladwell explains the importance of meaningful work. In short, meaningful work drives mastery. The quote “It’s not how much money we make that ultimately makes us happy between nine and five. It’s whether or not our work fulfills us,” really resonated with me. When a person feels that there is a purpose to his or her work, he or she are more likely to work harder, put in the hours and become a master of their practice. Gladwell’s discussion of this theory has inspired me to find meaningful work and I believe that an MBA education is a means to create more meaningful work in my life. From the book, it is clear that people who engage in meaningful work are not defeated by inevitable obstacles they encounter because there is a deep connection between effort and reward in his or her work. Moreover, he or she is able to push forward and remain committed, as they know their hard work will pay off in the end.
Equally important to hard work, Gladwell explains the significance of opportunities in his formula for success. It is one thing to be given amazing opportunities for success, it is another to make the most of those opportunities. In short, when an opportunity presents itself, seize it. I believe an individual’s ability to identify and grasp opportunities and then use his or her talents to capitalize on those opportunities is a valuable skill for a student in an academic setting. The book has encouraged me to find opportunities where I can dive into learning, put myself on the line, invest time in my passions, and achieve my goals.
It is refreshing and eye opening how Gladwell reveals the various elements that shape our success – practice, meaningful work, and opportunities. There are ups and downs in life that influence peoples’ lives for better or worse, providing more opportunities for some than others. Even though there may be not be an even playing field in regards to opportunities, Outliers, demonstrates that an individual who is ready and willing to put in the work has a genuine chance at experiencing success in life. I hope to live by this example and prove to be diligent, hardworking and optimistic in this next chapter of my education.