Tuesday, November 01, 2011


I recently finished reading Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.  I had read the synopsis before and wasn’t sure what to expect from the full read.  The premise is that it is not enough to be good.  You also have to be lucky.  He pulls examples from Canadian Hockey, the birth of the software industry, the rise of hostile takeovers and math proficiency. 

My takeaway is that working hard is table stakes.  A person can work hard if he truly enjoys (is obsessed with) an activity.  One of the cases on point includes Bill Gates.  An aspect of motivation for the rest of us is the triad of autonomy, skilled activity and reward for effort.  That point was driven home with the culture of rice paddy farming.  Once a person puts in the effort, he also needs to get lucky.  This luck is in the form of educational/coaching opportunity, ones age at a technology shift, and access to relevant resources.

At 40 years of age, I have missed the boat.  I was part of a large generation that fought for educational resources.  I missed the big industries of computer science and finance.  Interestingly, this was not due to lack of resources.  I had plenty of family support, access to great schools and a good job market at graduation.  I just wasn’t motivated.

My kids should have opportunities as well.  They should be born into a smaller generation and have better educational access.  They should also have the opportunity to excel in school with sufficient financial resources.
As a “pop economic” book it was a fun read.  I do ascribe to the 10,000 hour rule.  Unfortunately, the only aspect of my life in which I have gained that proficiency is my work in which most individuals hit 10,000 hours in 5-10 years. 

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