The other day I picked up a copy of Malcolm Gladwell’s newest book, Outliers: The Story of Success. I’m only a third of the way through the book, but here’s my take on what I have read so far.
Gladwell believes that success is more than just “pulling oneself up by their bootstraps.” He tells the story of Bill Gates and that the real reason for his success was that his private school (Gates came from a well-off family) purchased a computer before computers were widely-used and that Gates was naturally drawn to it. In other words, had Gates gone to a different school, I might not be typing this blog post because computer software might not exist as it does today. In other words, circumstances matter.
The problem I have with the book is that Gladwell seems to take the approach that success is simply too hard for the poor to achieve. Yes, I’ll admit that it would be harder for a poor person to achieve success in life but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. I think half the battle in achieving anything is mindset. If a person or class of people is constantly told they CAN’T do something, they end up believing it.
How would I level the playing field? My solution:
1. Allow parents vouchers so that they can send their kids to any school they desire. Not all parents would take advantage but some would.
2. Reinforce education and the importance of reading. Enlist the help of ‘famous’ athletes and musicians to get the message out to kids and PARENTS that EDUCATION IS IMPORTANT! Promote libraries and reading clubs. Offer reading classes to parents.
3. Don’t pass kids if they don’t make the grade.
4. Stop glorifying trash and stop filling our kids’ heads with hatred. Show kids how to respect themselves and those around them.
5. Require kids to watch The Big Idea.
Like I said, I’m not through reading Gladwell’s book yet. I don’t agree with some of his thoughts but I do like his style. There aren’t a lot of non-fiction books out there that are enjoyable to read.
If you’d like a chance to win a copy of the book from me, leave a comment below explaining your thoughts on success. I’m going to make this my FIRST EVER subjective giveaway in that I am going to pick my favorite comment (and the comment doesn’t have to agree with me!) and the winner will receive a copy of the book. The deadline for entry is Friday, December 12, 9am CST. Just remember my rule:
1. you must be a resident of the U.S. or Canada (I won’t mail internationally).