“Outliers are those who have been given opportunities - and those who have had the strength and presence of mind to seize them.” ~ Malcolm Gladwell
Most bookworms have, at some point, been tempted to read the ending of a book because it’s so good they cannot wait to see what happens. It doesn’t actually take away from enjoying the book but rather adds a level of satisfaction in knowing what’s going to happen to your favourite character! Anyway, this is one of those times I wished I’d done that. I’m also glad I didn’t because savouring that satisfaction at the end was so…well, satisfying!
In this bestseller book, Malcolm Gladwell systematically debunks the myths most people believe about rich and successful people and how they came to be rich and successful. There’s a mixture of stories told, each more surprising than the last. In some ways, this book was so scary to read: growing up in an African household, it was always drummed into me, my siblings, cousins, friends, etc. that we needed to study in school so that we would become successful. Not much emphasis was placed on what Malcolm shares in this book and so delicately hammers through to the end! What this book doesn't do is rubbish the importance of intelligence. Rather, it takes the reader on a journey through the lives of many remarkable individuals who had a series of encounters and, keyword here, opportunities that shaped their entire lives and led them down the path of success. Also, parallel to that, the reader is taken on a journey of some equally remarkable individuals who had a series of misfortunes that also shaped their lives and resulted in less success.
You will learn that Bill Gates was not only the one of the smartest men in Silicon Valley but he was also one of the luckiest. At a time when computers were scarce and millions of children had little to no access to computers and software programming, Bill Gates' mother was part of a club that raised money to buy a computer for his school which ignited his interest in programming. When said computer was no longer available, Bill Gates happened to live just down the road from Washington University where there was a computer available and in that same hospital, met a man who would give him his first programming project/job. Of all the people these events could have happened to, Bill Gates was very lucky to be awarded these opportunities. You'll also read the story of a man whose intelligence far surpasses Bill Gates but lives a secluded, 'less successful' life because he did not have the same opportunities and was overlooked so many times in his life.
Which brings me to my reflections about being a Christian woman looking for her own path to success. All I thought about when I read this book was what Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 9:11 -
"I have seen something else under the sun:
The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong,
nor does food come to the wise of wealth to the brilliant
or favour to the learned;
but time and chance happen to them all."
WHEW!! I'm telling you, reading this book will make you stop reading the book to go outside and just walk and say hello to people and enter every room you can until the right opportunity lands in your lap. But alas, we also need help to recognise these opportunities; another important lesson this book teaches us. Time and chance will happen but will we recognise the times and chances, like the sons of Issachar did? We may have missed some but don't despair because another thing Malcolm reinforces is that there isn't just one opportunity. There are several. A series of events that will determine the course of your life that is yet to be discovered. How exciting!
If you do read this book, please let me know what you think in the comments!