One thing more important than hard work in the pursuit of success, and why Malcolm Gladwell’s OUTLIERS is a must-read


Come to think of it, how did Bill Gates become so successful that he’s remained the undisputed richest man on the planet for an impressive number of years? “Forbes” is a reliable source. A number of factors could be said to be responsible for that, including hard work, smartness, solid work ethic, shrewdness, and what have you.

However, all the preceding identified factors relating to Gates’s outstanding success count for nothing in the face of the most dominant factor. What is this factor, you may be wondering already. It is this: LUCK (the version of it I personally work with is GRACE). Yes, Bill Gates was lucky. He himself knew about this very well and would say it so often that the producers of one of the biographical documentaries on him opened it with Gates’s uttering of the words: I was lucky. And would you be surprised to know that one of the biographical documentaries on Steve Jobs opened with Jobs’s utterance of same words? Indeed, both transgenerational legends know they owe their success story to luck, far more than they can ever owe it to any other determinant or predictor of success.

This is where Malcolm Gladwell’s OUTLIERS come in. I just ate up the book to its very last word and I’m far better off for it. And the best I can offer you right now is insist that you do all you earthly can to grab a copy and eat it up! You’d be glad you did.

Malcolm Gladwell is not just an awesome writer but a critical thinker and a catalyst for rapid personal and societal development. His ideas are breathtaking and his solutions are revolutionary. Else, who would have thought that “luck,” playing out in as much as one’s date of birth and ethnicity, is the single most important predictor and determinant of success.

How could we have known that the Asians owe their mathematical prowess to their language? How could we have known that the rice paddies of China produced the most resilient human beings in the world? How could we have known that growing children “concertedly” was better than letting them evolve just that way? How could we have known that the Korean Power Difference Index, PDI, was responsible for the repeated crashing of Korean planes – until something was done about it? We really wouldn’t have known until someone gave the whole scheme of things a rethink.

Reading Gladwell’s OUTLIERS, I resolutely came to the conclusion that there is no such person as a “self-made man or woman.” Even Gladwell agrees with me when he concluded, thus: “The outlier, in the end, is not an outlier at all.”

OUTLIERS will humble you; it will leave you more grateful than you already are – especially to unusual events and forgotten people. And, it will make you focus on creating more advantages for people instead of whipping them to work harder.

Who is an outlier? Find out.

*myGratitude: to Obinna Udeh for recommending the book; to Arinze Nwafor for lending me his copy.