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The Factors Leading To Success In The Book Outliers

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It is safe to say that success is everyone’s goal in life. Throughout the book Outliers written by Malcolm Gladwell, there were different factors stated that would lead to success. Many of those will be stated and discussed throughout this essay. Some of the factors that contribute to success are the 10,000 rule, properly coping with failure, the idea that head start leads to more, and especially access to resources. Each of these concepts allowed many people like The Beatles, Bill Joy, Bill Gates, and etc., to able to succeed as much as they did.

The first factor that is going to be discussed is the 10,000-hour rule. It is basically the belief that it takes 10,000 hours in order to become a master at a skill or hobby. There are many examples of well-known people that spent well over those hours and were able to flourish in their careers. The Beatles is the perfect model of this rule. Before they came to America, the group was playing multiple gigs throughout the United Kingdom. In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell stated, “All told, they performed for 270 nights in just over a year and a half. By the time they had their first burst of success, in 1964, in fact, they had performed live an estimated twelve hundred times” (50). Twelve hundred times. That is definitely impressive, especially since it was before they became popular, so just imagine how many hours throughout their entire career, way past 10,000 hours for sure. But there are limits as to how far this rule can be. Talent takes up a large part about what it takes to be a master at something. Not anybody can simply just put in 10,000 hours into a skill and expect to be as skillful as the person that was born with that talent. An article stated, “In the study, the authors rejected an important role for natural talent and argued that differences in ability, even among top musicians, were largely down to how much they practiced. Gladwell seized on the round number to explain the success of notables from Bill Gates to the Beatles”(Sample, 2019). In the book, Gladwell made it seem that anybody can be a master at anything. He fails to mention anything else. But the truth is that everyone is not meant to do anything in life, and in order to be successful, one must realize that. The following examples were all successful because of their practice and talent.

In life, when trying to succeed in life, everyone is going to make a mistake or go through a failure one way or another. That is normal. But it is significant to be able to cope with that failure properly and in a way where one would learn from it and prevent from it ever happening again. Many people think that making a mistake or having failure is the automatic pass to give up, so they try to avoid it and end up just playing it safe the entire time. When playing safe, nobody learns anything since they are not challenging themselves. An article stated, “We have parents calling in and saying, for their kids, ‘Can’t you just give them two more days on this paper?’ Overindulging kids, with the intention of giving them everything and being loving, but at the expense of their character — that’s huge in our population. I think that’s one of the biggest problems we have at Riverdale”(Tough, 2011). This quote focuses on how parents would always try to get their children to have the best grades without paying attention to what their child is doing wrong. They do not realize it at the moment, but they are really doing damage. The students are not able to learn from their academic mistakes, and it is not even their fault. Another thing people do not realize is that they learn best when they are making those mistakes and failures. The same article stated, “Randolph says that the character strengths that enabled him to achieve the success… they came out of those years of trial and error, of taking chances and living without a safety net” (Tough, 2011). A real-life example is from Dominic Randolph, the headmaster of Riverdale County School, the school where the parents from the previous example enroll their children in. Throughout the article, Randolph explains his whole journey of success and mentions his years at Harvard. Even though Harvard is known as one of the most prestigious universities in the world, he felt he did not feel like it was completing his capabilities. After two years he dropped out and went through a number of different jobs and occupations. Now looking back, he is glad he went through that and wishes parents would allow their children to go through their mistakes. Everyone’s goal to react to failure should be to take the bullet, work harder, and to continue to focus on the aim.

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When a child is born, one would think that they have an equal chance of being successful in life. But in the book, Outliers, readers learn that something as simple as someone’s birthday can affect their chance of being prosperous in the future. The chapter starts off with a given chart demonstrating all of the players of the 2007 Medicine Hat Tigers hockey team in Canada with their birthdays. At first, nothing looks out of place, teammates that are close in age, pretty normal. But the crazy part is that a large percentage of the players were born in January, February, and March. It was not only in hockey. Another chart was given that showed the birthdays of the players of the 2007 Czech National Junior soccer team. An explanation was given in the book. It stated, “It’s simply that in Canada the eligibility cutoff for all age-class hockey is January 1”(24). Gladwell continues to explain how children that were born at the beginning of the year have the advantage of just being a few months older than kids that were born at the end of the year. No one would think a few months have that type of effect but it does because people allow it to be. The book also stated, “And they put the older kids in the advanced stream, where they learn better skills; and the next year, because they are in the higher groups, they do even better; and the next year, the same thing happens, and they do even better again.” (29). Gladwell was explaining about students and their academics but it is the same pattern and concept. People often make the assumption that the older someone is, the more skillful that person is. Then that assumption is made into action when children that are older are chosen to be focused more on and eventually that child will become more skillful. Unfortunately, this factor to success is not something anyone can control and really only has to do with pure luck someone has regarding their birthday. But that is not a give up pass to anyone that wishes to be successful in that field.

The most significant factor that leads to success is access to resources. This factor allowed current millionaires and billionaires to be as successful as they are today and they all ended up being one of the most influential people of all time. Bill Joy is one of them. Today he is an American software developer, entrepreneur, and co-founder of the computer manufacturer Sun Microsystems and is worth 1.5 billion dollars. All of this happened for him because of all the practice he was able to get from his surroundings. The novel Outliers stated, “He programmed whenever he could. Joy got a job with a computer science professor so he could program over the summer. In 1975, he enrolled in graduate school at the University of California at Berkeley. There, he buried himself even deeper in the world of computer software”(36). Bill Joy was absolutely obsessed with the computer center at his college, University of Michigan. Joy was extremely lucky to have access to it during his teenage years, especially since it was the 1970s where computers and technology were just being introduced into the world. The novel also stated, “Just look at the stream of opportunities that came Bill Joy’s way… Bill Joy was brilliant. He wanted to learn. That was a big part of it. But before he could become an expert, someone had to give him the opportunity to learn how to be an expert” (46). Throughout Joy’s childhood, he was always called bright and curious and was always longing to learn something new every day. But in life that is not enough. People like him would need access to resources to challenge their wisdom and to be discovered. Fortunately, Joy got that access and was able to get that practice that eventually helped him be the man he is today.

Another person that ended up being a billionaire and an influential person is Bill Gates. He is an American business magnate, investor, author, philanthropist, humanitarian, and the founder of the Microsoft Corporation and is worth over one billion dollars today. While growing up, Gates lived in a wealthy family in Seattle. His parents always paid much attention to their genius son and provided him lots of opportunities. In the novel, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell stated, “As a child Bill was precocious and easily bored by his studies. So his parents took him out of public school and, at the beginning of seventh grade, sent him to Lakeside, a private school that catered to Seattle’s elite families” (50). Gladwell continues to explain how at Lakeside a computer club was made and that is when Gates got hooked. Gates was even younger than Joy when he first got exposed to computers and coding. He was an extremely lucky boy since at this time using computers was new to society and expensive to do and somehow was able to get money. When he did not have that money he would always find an alternative and often got in trouble throughout his teenage and college years. Gates did all this just to have the opportunities and access to resources. All of the hours of practice helped him become the coding genius he is today.

Overall, the factors that lead to success are the 10,000-hour rule, appropriately coping with failure, that having a head start leads to more opportunities, and especially access to resources. From this research, readers should learn that there is not just one journey for success that each person should follow. Each success story is unique, so do not try to copy someone else’s. All of this information is significant because it gives many examples of special story of the most influential people like the Beatles, Bill Joy, and Bill Gates. Hopefully, this research inspires someone to get up and work for their success story.

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The Factors Leading To Success In The Book Outliers. (2021, September 20). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 22, 2023, from
“The Factors Leading To Success In The Book Outliers.” Edubirdie, 20 Sept. 2021,
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The Factors Leading To Success In The Book Outliers [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2021 Sept 20 [cited 2023 Sept 22]. Available from:
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