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How to Achieve Success: According to Outliers author Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell’s third book, Outliers, is about exceptionally people: smart people, rich
people, successful people, people who operate at the extreme outer edge of what is statistically
possible: J. Robert Oppenheimer, Bill Gates and The Beatles.

Outliers tells a story about the context in which success takes place: family, culture, friendship,
childhood, accidents of birth and history and geography. "It's not enough to ask what successful
people are like," Gladwell writes. "It is only by asking where they are from that we can unravel
the logic behind who succeeds and who doesn't." Outliers is, in its genteel Gladwellian way, a
frontal assault on the great American myth of the self-made man.

Within Outliers there is a little gem Gladwell calls the 10,000-Hour Rule. Gladwell quotes
neurologist Daniel Levitin, who says that scientific studies show that 10,000 hours are required
to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert — in anything. This
suggest that the key to success in any field has nothing to do with talent. It's simply practice,
10,000 hours of it — 20 hours a week for 10 years.

The Beatles
he Fab Four burst onto the world stage in the 1960s, seemingly lifted from their hometown of
Liverpool and dropped into the world's biggest venues. But theirs was not an overnight success.
One of the Beatles' early gigs was performing near military bases in Hamburg, Germany; they
would perform for eight hours a day, seven days a week. They did this for 270 days over the
course of 18 months. By the time the Beatles enjoyed their first commercial success in 1964,
they had performed 1,200 times, which is more than most bands today perform in their careers.
When the Beatles first left for Germany, they weren't very good. But by the time their Hamburg
stints ended, they sounded like no other band in the world. They were well on their way to
getting in their 10,000 hours.

Bill Gates
Generally regarded as a savant or a computer genius, Gates has a 10,000-hour story, too. Gates
had the good fortune to attend a private school in Seattle that had a computer club. This was
1968, when most universities did not have a computer club. And Gates' club didn't have an
ordinary computer — they had an ASR-33 Teletype, one of the most advanced computers of
its day. Gates was hooked on computers and began programming in the eighth grade! This led
to other experiences in Seattle, and by the time he graduated, Gates had practically lived in
the computer lab for five years. He was closing in on 10,000 hours and was ready to take full
advantage of the opportunities he soon would receive.
here are similar examples: Mozart, whose greatest compositions weren't written until he had
been composing for more than 20 years; and it takes roughly 10,000 hours to become a chess
Acitivity: The 10,000 Hour Rule & You

Discussion Questions:
1. Do you agree with Gladwell & Levitin’s 10,000 hour rule?
2. Could anything else influence success & becoming an expert besides 10,000 hours of practice?

Calculating your level of expertise & practice hours:

1. Choose two activities you enjoy doing and fill in the two boxes below “activity”.
2. Determine the approximate number of years you have been involved in that activity.
3. Determine the approximate / average days per week that you practice (consider weekends &
4. Determine the number of weeks per year that you practice (consider vacations, rest &
5. Determine the average number of hours per day you practice (be as realistic as possible)

Calculating Your Level of Expertise:

Years Involved X Days Per Week X Weeks X Hours Per Day = Total Hours of Practice
Activity Approximate Average days Number Average Total Hours
# of per week you of weeks hours per day of
years practice per year you practice Practice
involved (out of 52)

Wrap Up Questions:
Are you an expert in your field / activity?

If not, how many more years of practice (staying on your current pace) would it take you to
become an expert in your field / activity?