10 Things I Learned from ‘Outliers’ by Malcolm Gladwell

“What makes some people more successful than others?”

Hello Neighbour

I loved a lot of things about this book but the biggest benefit for me was how useful it was as a parenting guide. Yes, parenting.

In Outliers, Gladwell does a meticulous analysis of success and gives impressive answers to the question, “What makes some people more successful than others?” Through thorough research and taking a deep look at the lives of people like Bill Gates, The Beatles, and Steve Jobs, and finding out things like why Asian children are good at mathematics, he debunks some of the ideas we have about success.

Here are some of the things I learned:

  1. There’s no such thing as a self-made person, and people who make it big do not rise from nothing. Patronage and parentage play a huge role.
  2. Excellence at performing a complex task requires a critical minimum level of practice. Experts have settled on 10 000 hours. However, since it’s such a long time (about ten years), things like being poor and having, say, to hold down two or three jobs leave you with not enough time, therefore it becomes a challenge to even begin that kind of practice.
  3. What parents do for a living, the clubs, programs and activities their children are afforded help create opportunities for the children.
  4. Intelligence matters up to a certain point and past that certain point other things outside of intelligence start to matter more.
  5. I learned about what’s called Practical Intelligence, and how important it is. It is ‘knowing what to say, to whom, knowing when to say it, and knowing how to say it for maximum effect.” This important knowledge helps you read situations correctly and get what you want.
  6. The time and place a person is born do matter. What was happening at the time, for example economically, counts more than we think.  
  7. Childhood experiences, being encouraged and nudged by parents or caregivers play an important role.
  8. Entitlement, in a positive sense, is about kids who act as though they have a right to pursue their own individual preferences, and they’re able to reason and negotiate with ease in institutional settings.
  9. The culture you find yourself in is also a factor.
  10. The attitudes and traditions we inherit from our forebears, affect the way we make sense of the world and therefore also play our role in the shaping of our success.

It’s such an enjoyable and stimulating book. It will open your eyes and bring a fresh perspective to how you think of successful people and success itself.

Enjoy, Neighbour!

‘The 4 Disciplines of Execution’ by C. McChesney, S. Covey and J. Huling

This highly recommended and bestselling business book is a set of practices that have been tested by many organisations, to help them turn plans and strategies into action. Although the book helps organisations, it is just as helpful for individuals. The book gives advice, based on experience and practice, on how to achieve goals, have meaningful work, and get successful results and stay focused in the midst of a “whirlwind” of priorities.

Discipline One: Focus on the Wildly Important

By focusing on less you get to achieve more. Instead of focusing on or trying to do everything at once, select one or two most important goals, and focus your finest efforts on those instead of giving mediocre focus on many goals at once. This will also help you become clear about what matters the most.

Discipline Two: Act on the Lead Measures

Some actions have more impact than others, and those are the ones you should identify and focus on. This is the discipline of leverage. Your lead measures are those of the most high-impact things you should do to reach your goal(s). These are measures you can predict and influence.

Discipline Three: Keep a Compelling Scoreboard

When you’re keeping score you tend to play differently. When you’re tracking how you’re scoring, you become emotionally engaged and the result is a high level of performance. This is about engagement – knowing whether you are winning or losing the game.

Discipline Four: Create a Cadence of Accountability

You have to follow through with consistent action and operate with a high level of accountability. Commit to moving the score forward. Report on your commitments, review the scoreboard, and clear the path and make way for new commitments. This discipline is where the actual execution takes place.

The above has been simplified so that an individual can be able to understand and put it to practice. The 4 Disciplines of Execution (4DX) can make a difference in your personal life too and the book is written in such a simple way that it’s not difficult to take what it advises an organisation, and chop it down to suit you as an individual or a small organisation.

Execution is challenging and this is what this book is for, giving you a framework of how to break through those challenges. When priorities are a mountain it becomes difficult to straighten them or get them done effectively. Here you’ll find ways to prioritize your time and focus on what matters the most. Goals differ, some are achievable and others aren’t, some are more important than others. The book helps you narrow down what matters the most.

It seems simple but you have to keep at it, commit. It’s one of those books you might want to keep revisiting as you go along, highlight important parts, or keep notes on the most important rules/guidelines. Depending on how fast you learn, it can be repetitive but that can be beneficial if you want to get every bit of detail and thoroughly understand it. It’s worth having.