Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Luck v opportunity

I am currently reading the Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. It is an interesting read. I am not sure if it is inspiring or not.
His big idea or theory as far as I can work out is that beyond a certain threshold of ability, the real thing that matters is opportunity and hard work. It is what you do as an individual with those opportunities that counts. Having talent matters to a certain extent but it is what you do with that talent that matters. It is the drive and the desire to succeed that matters as much as intelligence or raw test scores. For example, the affirmative action programs in various law schools have shown that achievement after law school is not based on the test scores/grades that people have to get in.
Because of the nature of the human experience, certain periods in history have thrown up opportunities. Certain familial backgrounds assist in making it easier for individuals to succeed.
For example, Mozart in part succeeded because his father was a musician and determined that his son would use his talent. Steve Jobs, a co founder of Apple and Pixar succeeds because he lives near HP engineers and is able to spend time working on computer projects. The book is slightly off here as Jobs lived in Cupertino during his junior high and high school years (he went to Homestead) rather than Mountain View. You simply do not live in Mountain View and go to state school in Cupertino. Says she who grew up in Mountain View. In any case it was the Santa Clara Valley and there was a predisposition towards computing as well as raising money for start ups in computing.
The Beatles succeed in part (according to Gladwell) because they learn to play together in marathon session in Hamburg.
It is not luck but making the most of the opportunities given and working very hard.
Once you have the ability, practice does make perfect. The better someone is at something, the longer they have probably practiced. It takes 10,000 hours to begin to know what you are doing and to start understanding the whys behind things so you can solve problems quickly. And there are a lot of people who do not want to put the time in and keep putting the time in. Most people give up or find something else to do.
People who truly succeed at something have an in depth knowledge of the subject and use that knowledge. When adversity strikes, they use the opportunity to succeed or to get themselves in a position to succeed. They are not strangers to rejection, but use it. They are also very focused on their goals, rather than on the prize at the end of the rainbow.
It is an interesting book and I am about 2/3 through it.
How can I apply it to my own writing. First of all, I need to be aware of the need to practice - -to write and to keep striving. 2. I need to make the most of opportunities that present themselves and to make my own luck. Success comes from making the most of opportunities.

Right now, though I remain behind on my wip and the deadline is looming. One of the great things about M&B is that it does the author the opportunity to write and to write a lot.


Donna Alward said...

I agree. In some ways I was disappointed in Outliers, but I was still encouraged by bits. Like the fact that I don't need to be a genius. LOL And that I know how to work hard.

Lacey Devlin said...

I love books like that but I haven't actually read Outliers it's about to be added to my TBR pile...

Anonymous said...

I'm a third of the way through this book (Got it from the library after reading Donna's blog)So far I'm finding it really interesting. It's encouraging to know that, above a certain level, IQ isn't important for success. That someone with an IQ of 115 can do as well as someone with one of 170. More important is attitude--- the way you handle the challenges in life.

I wonder if his other books, Blink and Tipping point are worth reading.

Janet Ch said...

Sorry. My comment came up as anonymous for some reason.

Janet Ch.