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la science du succès
le 17 janvier 2009
Un livre scientifique populaire bien lisible sur le succès.
Outliers, in statistics, are results that are so extreme that they are generally not taken into account in calculations. So extreme that they are literally off the charts. Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers: The Story of Success is about people that experience this kind of extreme success. People like the most succesful hockey and soccer players. People like Bill Gates. Or the Beatles. What is it that makes people so succesful?
First, it is hard work. To become an expert in a field, one needs at least about 10,000 hours of labor. Like an Asian farmer toiling away on his rice paddy field. The proverbial 99% transpiration that comes with the 1% inspiration.
Second, it is lucky circumstances. Sheer luck. Like being born at the beginning of the year instead of at the end (which makes a surprisingly significant difference in your chances of becoming a top hockey player). Or the country you're from. Or the language you've been raised in (English gives you an early math disadvantage of about a year compared to Chinese or Japanese).
In his previous bestseller The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make A Big Difference, Gladwell shows that small initial differences can make for a huge end effect on a society. Also his Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking was about conclusions we all draw from small differences in quick thought processes. In the same way, this book shows how sometimes incredibly small differences can tip somebody towards extreme success.
Small differences also made for the success of Malcolm Gladwell himself. One of the most precious gifts he allegedly got from his father is the memory of "seeing him work at his desk and realizing that he was happy". The same joyous work ethic oozes from the pages of this book.
Gladwell reads like a detective. He brings you science like a professional storyteller. The science, on the other hand, sometimes suffers a bit from this high readability (some conclusions about cultural causes are quite debatable). There are no footnotes in this book, but in the back of the publication, each chapter does have a number of notes to back up some of his claims.
This book is definitely an entertaining read. It is also a good way to weapon yourself against the abundance of success stories that sound a tad too good to be a full version of the truth.