Are you an outlier?

Recently read Malcolm Gladwell’s new book – ‘Outliers’ on the flight to HK. He’s answered some of the questions I’ve been asking myself. How do genuises become so successful. Apart from hardwork, alot of it has to do with doing the right things at the right time.

He started his argument saying basically, there’s no geniuses, yes even Mozart was not a genius. He proposed a 10,000 hours rule where anyone can become an expert if they spend that amount of hours in a particular subject.

Then there’s the proof of born at the right time, e.g. Hockey players are born early of the year, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are both born in 1955, Majority of successful lawyers were born in 1930s, and 1890s Americans are at the top of the World’s rich list.

He also showed examples high IQ != success. Particularly the smartest person in US, Chris Langan, with IQ > 195, had a hard life because of this surrounding circumstances. Imagination and practical intelligence are both under valued in assessing our children’s performance.

Cultural values and spoken language are also factors of success in the big picture. Western culture is more assertive where’s Asians are more authoritative. This could lead to disastrous situations like why Korean airline had more accidents than others.

This book has given me some ideas how to raise my child in the future. I am lucky enough to have exposure to both west and east, there’s huge opportunities. I have had similar ideas previously about being successful is not just about IQ or working hard. I need to exploit my surroundings and be at the right place at the right time. That is why I chose to come back to HK, not many people can speak fluent English, Cantonese and Mandarin and know that is what they should exploiting. Having a HK ID card is also a huge advantage, HK citizens can go to China freely and while keeping dual citizenship. Chinese mainlander would have to give up their Chinese citizenships. Taiwanese couldn’t even have direct flight to China until now. Westerners need to update their visas now and again. In fact, HK businessmen have long been doing business in China because of this advantage. Therefore I suggest people find out what their real assets are, its not just about hardwork and skills. Alot of successful stories make sense as an after fact, the key is to execute the right plan when other’s don’t know about it yet.

Anyway I dug up some videos of Chris Langan as well, and read up abit on his theory of everything. Its interesting how he attempts to combine psychology and science together. If something cannot be explained by science doesn’t mean it cannot be explained. Cognition was a main factor of a beginning to the Universe.


5 thoughts on “Are you an outlier?

  1. “Apart from hardwork, alot of it has to do with doing the right things at the right time.” That’s why often a visionary person is successful. They are clear when is the right time, and what need to be done right now.

    Need to get this book soon.

  2. I have just finished this book too. The part about “10000 hours” is quite relevant to me. Besides my day job as a developer, I am also a freelance photographer. During my early years I made myself to shoot everyday to hone my skill. I can definitely see my skill improves.

  3. 10k hours also feels like a magic number to me. I have built websites for 10 years and I do feel I have that much knowledge and experience to call myself an expert šŸ˜›

  4. Here’s where I think you hit the nail on the head: ” Therefore I suggest people find out what their real assets are, its not just about hardwork and skills.” I think people focus too much time on identifying weaknesses and trying to make them into strengths. Why not focus on your strengths that differentiate you and “exploit them” to use your terminology.

    For example, I could kick a soccer ball a mile when I was a kid and therefore I always wanted to play college soccer. The reality was that I didn’t have the other skills that make soccer plays experts. I worked harder than everyone else and had the passion, but my strength was that I could kick the ball the furtherest and highest. Once I started kicking on the (american) football team it became evident that this was my strength. So in stead of working on my weaknesses as a soccer player, I started using my leg strength on the football field. Here’s one of the end results of this decision to move over to football:

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