Albert Einstein: One of Gladwell's Outliers?

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Einstein was not always an extremely successful man and he had difficulties that would have prevented anyone else from succeeding, but eventually, several of his theories led to scientific advancements. One theory earned him a Nobel Prize, in physics one a PhD and another helped in the development of nuclear fission. If a person were only to take a quick glance at his life without a deeper investigation, they would find it difficult to discover the catalyst that led to his success. However, with the tools Gladwell provides his readers it does become obvious what led to Einstein’s life of success. Gladwell argues that a person needs to devote time to practice their craft; he calls this the “10,000-hour rule” (Gladwell 35). They must also have opportunity to succeed, as well as intelligence; they must at least be, smart enough to do so. He also claims that they must have been born at just the right time for success, too early or too late is a failure; he calls this the “Matthew Effect” (Gladwell 15). Gladwell even goes so far as to say that where they are born has a significant impact on their success; this he calls “demographic luck” (Gladwell 129). These tools provided by Gladwell to identify an outlier can explain if Albert Einstein is truly an outlier.

Einstein’s education was unconventional for a person who was to become a success. Early on, he was failing a large number of his courses; and he transferred from a German school at age fifteen to a Swiss school, so that he could avoid compulsive military service in the German armed forces. By the age of sixteen, he officially became a school dropout. His grade school principle made the statement to his parents, “it didn’t matter what profession the boy prepared for because he wo...

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... description an outlier on all five points. He was a man that came from nothing; his life was full of struggles that could have led him to fail. Even through uncontrollable circumstances seemed to hold him back; they also guided him down the correct path he needed to succeed. Einstein was intelligent enough, he made use of the “Matthew Effect”, the “10,000-hour” rule, “demographic luck”, and he had opportunity (Gladwell 15, 35, 129). Through a review of these effects on a persons success offered by Gladwell it is now easier to understand how a person like Einstein did in fact become such a success.

Works Cited

Gladwell, Malcolm. Outliers: the story of success. 2011. Reprint. New York: Back Bay Books / Little, Brown and Co., 2008. Print.
Severance, John B. Einstein: Visionary Scientist. New York: Clarion Books, 1999. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 14 Apr. 2014

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