Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers: The Path To Success

1123 words - 4 pages

Imagine a book that offers the reader a key; a key that enables them to ride down the highway to success and see all of the stops along the way that are instrumental in achieving success. Malcolm Gladwell does precisely this in his novel Outliers, which examines some of history’s most successful people and then attempts to explain why they specifically became successful beyond their wildest dreams. Gladwell is a reporter for The New Yorker and an accomplished author in the areas of psychology, sociology, and social psychology. In Outliers, he presents his reasoning as to why some people become successful and some do not. One of his major points in this regard is the ten thousand hour rule, meaning that to master a topic and become extremely successful in that area, one must accumulate at least ten thousand hours of practice in that area. He closely examines the early lives and careers of some of history’s greatest success stories to make a fine argument for his case. However, his strong arguments in support of his theories on success are not as strong when they come to countering the “typical view”, as Gladwell sees it. Outliers is different than most persuasive novels in that by proving his point, Gladwell does not necessarily disprove other people’s view on success. He effortlessly utilizes logos, along with numerous examples and parallelisms to support his theories. However, his lack of ethos and strong counter-argument allows for the audience to understand his ten thousand hour rule without necessarily supporting it wholeheartedly. After proposing something unthinkable to the average mind, Gladwell goes on to explain his ten thousand hour rule theory using two, very descriptive, very in-depth anecdotes. He shows how multi-billionaire Bill Gates was given numerous opportunities, as a young teenager, to work with computers. Gladwell explains, “They gave Bill Gates extra time to practice…he’d been practicing nonstop for seven consecutive years. He was way past 10,000 hours” (55). He then compares Gates’ experience with that of the Beatles in the early 1960’s, who played for over 10,000 hours during a year in Hamburg. In making the comparison, Gladwell effectively shows how his theory not only applies to two successful people, but applies in the same exact way. He is an expert in the use of logos, stringing together opportunities in Gates’ and the Beatles’ past to demonstrate how they achieved ten thousand hours of practice and how that helped lead to their success. While his argument greatly benefits from this, it suffers from a lack of strong ethos and counter-argument. Gladwell never really goes into his personal background and accomplishments. He merely heads right into the core of his theories. The only way the reader would be able to know that he is an accomplished author is by reading the back cover. This presents a major issue in truly believing what Gladwell is saying. He also is not very effective in creating any counter-argument in...

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