Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Outliers-Malcolm Gladwell

Whenever I have something to do outside of the house in the evening I have a rule that I follow. I never, ever, unless I have been very busy the prior few evenings, go home before my child's bedtime. I know that sounds mean but I'm a stay-at-home-mom. (Oh how I wish I had a better word for that-Housewife-UUGH, Homemaker-I think I like that one the best because it implies I'm actually making something....Unemployed? I hate terms like "household engineer" which imply you are embarrassed about what you do and wish to sugar coat it or make sure the world knows you are very important and value yourself and your time despite the fact that you are unemployed (and you are, I'm not sayin' you're not.)

But I digress, I don't go home. This evening, after a meeting at school that blissfully ended at 8pm I headed over to Starbucks where I sat and read for 1.5 hours. Sure I could have read at home I guess, after my peanut was in bed, but really, I would have also thought about
housework (although not too hard) or eBay or emails I need to send out about school that I have not or looked at one of the many decorating blogs that I frequent) At Starbucks there was none of that.

Tonight I began Malcolm Gladwell's book, Outliers, The Story Of Success. It was interesting because Gladwell dispells the "myth" that all you need to get ahead is intelligence and ambition.

From Amazon:

Malcolm Gladwell poses a more provocative question in Outliers: why do some people succeed, living remarkably productive and impactful lives, while so many more never reach their potential? Challenging our cherished belief of the "self-made man," he makes the democratic assertion that superstars don't arise out of nowhere, propelled by genius and talent: "they are invariably the beneficiaries of hidden advantages and extraordinary opportunities and cultural legacies that allow them to learn and work hard and make sense of the world in ways others cannot." Examining the lives of outliers from Mozart to Bill Gates, he builds a convincing case for how successful people rise on a tide of advantages, "some deserved, some not, some earned, some just plain lucky."

I'll be honest. I found this a little offputting because when I read a book about success I'm generally looking for some information on how to BE successful. I felt as if Gladwell was telling me that if the planets were not lined up, then you're pretty much screwed. (He advises you not to even THINK about playing professional Hockey in Canada if you have an October birthday-It's just not likely you'll ever succeed and he makes a compelling case as to why.)

Of course it also confirmed EXACTLY what I have always known-That the jerk in the corner office is really NOT any smarter or ambitious than myself.....;-)

The best grain of advice in the entire book is the fact that if you practice something for 10,000 hours you will become an expert at it. Even Bill Gates & The Beatles had logged 10,000 hours before they really became Bill Gates and The Beatles .

That might sound like a lot but that means if you practice 2 hrs a day you can be an expert in 13.5 years (You'll be doing something in 13.5 years, you might as well do it well) Even at an hour a day you can become really good at something in 10 years. Really good-The difference between 10,000 and 4,000 hrs was literally the difference between being a music teacher and a world class musician. Considering I'm not anywhere near able to teach someone violin (Unless all they want to do is play the suzuki version of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star) I'd say even 4000 hours would make me pretty happy.

So decide what you want, stop watching TV, reading decorating blogs (my version of watching TV) or playing online Scrabble. (Another time suck of mine if let it-I generally don't even venture near scrabble because I like it THAT much) and spend an hour a day doing something to make your life better. In 10 years you won't be sorry!

1 comment:

Kristin said...

This reminds me of my mother's favorite saying...
"How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, Practice, PRACTICE!" Well I'm certain a hour less of TV or computer time never hurt anyone...I think I'll give it a try.