book review outliers malcolm gladwell

Book Review: Outliers — The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

Genre: Non-fiction.

“Hard work is a prison sentence only if it does not have meaning.” ~~ Malcolm Gladwell (Book: Outliers)

There’s hype around the book and if you spend a considerable amount of your time finding books to-read online than you probably have at least come across this title once.

Or maybe you’ve read about the theory presented in the book that to get to success you need to practice 10,000 hours.

‘Practice makes perfect’ so the saying goes (and have been a bane of most people’s existence ever since its invention). 😉

That’s the idea behind the book. Practicing for 10,000 hours (the magical number in the book) would make you the master of your craft.


Despite investing or wasting away 10,000 hours of your life, you may never get success, name, fame, money or popularity, if that’s what you’re after.

I have been curious about reading this book as I have read about this theory a lot and I have also come across a video smashing the theory.

The video, it seems, has been made for the fifteen minutes of fame, by smashing this theory. But enough said about that inadequate video as this isn’t the review of that video.

So what if you want everything that comes with mastering your craft? How to get it?

The book investigates what makes ‘geniuses’ genius and why they are famous and how they got to where they are today? Is it exclusively about ‘mastering’ your craft?

Unfortunately, that isn’t the case.

Here are some of the ingredients you’d need to have it all along with mastering your craft:

Lesson 1: Practice More Than Other People:

The author comes up with the number ‘10,000 hours of practice’ after interviewing successful people.

Apparently, people like Bill Gates have had spent this much amount of time to master their craft before becoming the big names they are today.

If you have talent, even then you need to practice your craft till your skills are near perfection, meaning you end up with more knowledge about your subject than anyone else in your field.

Having talent doesn’t mean you don’t have to practice. But as I see it having talent is better than not having it, as it means less time wasted trying and more doing.

“Success is a function of persistence and doggedness and the willingness to work hard for twenty two minutes to make sense of something that most people would give up on after thirty seconds.” ~~ Malcolm Gladwell (Book: Outliers)


Lesson 2: The luck factor or the opportunities you get and seize:

You’d have more talent than anyone around you and might have even mastered your craft but….

You still need appropriate opportunities at the right time to get to the next stage in your chosen path.

You might have to struggle a lot if you don’t get these opportunities to get to your dream or due to lack of these opportunities you might not reach your full potential.

These opportunities are random and can’t be predicted in advance. It seems those people who have made it got lucky. Maybe, those people, who say (enviously) that so-so got lucky, do have some point. 😉

Also, even the geniuses and talented people need help and support from others around them. The success depends on, if you got support and help you need when you needed it or not.

“No one — not rock stars, not professional athletes, not software billionaires and not even geniuses — ever makes it alone.” ~~ Malcolm Gladwell (Book: Outliers)


Lesson 3: Where you’re coming from matters:

Your family background, culture, education etc. you come from matters as much as talent, practice and opportunities.

What was your family environment like while you were growing up, how involved your parents were, what they taught you, did you learn early how to deal with authority figures in society or not etc. matters in the long run.

Your own decisions to get to the success you want matters. But you cannot negate the role and support of your family in that success as if you’ve a supportive family you may get to your dream a bit faster.

As per the author, someone becoming a success fighting all kinds of odds isn’t the full picture. It’s a fairy-tale we like to tell ourselves.

We all need cooperation of our families, friends, peers and mentors to help us get to the top.

If everything lines up perfectly, we seem to get there easily (from others POV). If not, then it takes time or we just don’t get there.  

“We tell rags-to-riches stories because we find something captivating in the idea of a lone hero battling overwhelming odds.” ~~ Malcolm Gladwell (Book: Outliers)


Lesson 4: The company you keep matters:

Or you could say the environment you have around you, would affect you in some manner or other.

For example: if you’re born in a household, where parents just don’t care about your studies, chances are you’d catch that attitude. Of course, you can catch this attitude from your peers as well.

Your parents are the first people, who’d teach you how to deal with people in the society.

If they fail to teach you that properly that would affect your chances of being successful as well, irrespective of how talented you’re.  

“The sense of possibility so necessary for success comes not just from inside us or from our parents. It comes from our time: from the particular opportunities that our particular place in the history presents us with.” ~~ Malcolm Gladwell (Book: Outliers)



You can either feel happy or pessimistic after reading the book. At least one (or more or all) theory would smash one of your rosy notions about success and how you’re going to get it.

You might even start analyzing your life. Who knows you might be able to fix whatever it is that’s holding you back.

I also invested some time thinking what makes the book popular, which in my opinion is all about 10,000 hours. Practice makes perfect is a good advice, but a vague one.

And if you have ever spent your time wondering: how much practice you need to do master your craft? Then you’ve got your answer in numbers.

Like always, I’d like to say, believe in any theory, with a pinch of salt. They have the uncanny tendency to come to some other conclusion some other time in the future.

Hit or Miss: Hit.

Ratings: 3stars/5

Buy: Amazon   |  iTunes

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Passionate Book Reviews

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