Analysis Of Outliers By Malcolm Gladwell

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In Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell analyzes numerous success stories in an attempt to understand the circumstances that make certain individuals particularly exceptional. Through his analysis, Gladwell strives to find an explanation for why some people succeed, while others, despite their persistent efforts, do not. He questions the validity of conventional attitudes towards accomplished figures—that these figures simply rise to fame as a result of sheer talent and ambition—and points out that the superficial summaries leave out crucial details. As Gladwell studies the lives of these “outliers,” from piano virtuosos to software moguls, he indicates that their success stemmed from a variety of components, including fortunate…show more content…
He explains that though extraordinary opportunities reveal themselves in many ways, they all have the same effect: they allow the individual to get ahead. According to Gladwell, sometimes these opportunities build up until they are no longer single accidents. He illustrates the concept of gifted programs to support his claim. Teachers select promising students for the programs in hopes of maximizing their potential, and unsurprisingly, these students learn more and advance above their classmates—an advantage that continues to accumulate year after year (Gladwell 29). However, a study by Bedard and Dhuey reveals that these students are often perceived as more intelligent than their peers simply because they are more mature (28). The students that aren’t as mature are consequently denied an important, critical opportunity in their education. Gladwell presents the Canadian Hockey League system as another example: after young players are separated into teams according to their skill level, the most talented players receive better training and more practice time (25). Although it appears that this process is fairly based on ability, Gladwell emphasizes that hockey coaches make the same mistake that teachers do in the classroom—they unknowingly choose the most physically mature players (24-25).…show more content…
He explains that cultural values begin with one’s ancestors and never disappear, even after “economic and social and demographic conditions” change (175). One of the numerous cultural values that transfer to each generation is the Power Distance Index (PDI), a term coined by psychologist Geert Hofstede (204). Countries with a high PDI, such as Colombia and South Korea, show enormous respect towards superiors, and Gladwell indicates the implications of this cultural legacy in the field of aviation (209). During emergency situations, a first officer from a culture with a high PDI is likely to speak unnecessarily respectfully to the Air Traffic Controllers (ATC), which erroneously conveys a tone of nonchalance (194). Gladwell describes tragic cases where miscommunication between the ATC, pilot, and first officer resulted in a plane crash. However, Gladwell emphasizes that pilots from a culture with a high PDI can still succeed in aviation if they are willing to confront their cultural legacy and adapt—which is exactly what Korean Air triumphantly did (220). Korean Air’s triumph over its initial disadvantage emphasizes that even though cultural legacies are unavoidable, they can be overcome and can eventually lead to
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