An outlier is defined as something observed as significantly different (above or below) or lying outside the sample set or an average. With this paper, I intend to summarize Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, as well as use it in describing why I think Lionel Messi is an outlier.
In outliers, Gladwell (2008) examines what makes some people remarkably more successful than others. It is commonly thought that talent, intelligence, and hard work, far above average, is all that is needed to gain great success. Gladwell challenges this belief through thorough background research on some distinguished outliers. I intend to summarize his key points, necessary for an outlier, and apply them to my chosen outlier, Lionel Messi. In a world where success is said to be achieved through talent and hard work, it seems to have a lot more to do with unfair advantages and opportunities. The key aspects Gladwell (2008) relates to an outlier include innate talent, opportunities, practice, upbringing and family influence, cultural legacy, and the relevance or importance of one’s work. I will now go on to further explain and expand on these characteristics individually.
The first characteristic needed to excel as an outlier is innate talent. In order to truly excel in anything, one must have the talent to foster success. Gladwell concedes that talent and hard work are factors in success. Human achievements, he argues, demand ability and talent, disciplined by at least 10,000 hours of practice. Having talent alone does not make one successful. Having the fortitude to take advantage of opportunities afforded to you, and the determination to practice for as long as it takes to master your craft is what leads to true success.
Next, let’s take a look at opportunities and the role they play in cultivating an outlier. In order to become an outlier, one has to seize opportunities when present. Success is marked by the door of opportunity being opened to someone, without others having a chance at the same opportunity. This in turn allows the talented person time and access to specialized coaching, equipment, and means to further develop their skills, thus widening the margin between them and those less fortunate to receive that opportunity. Opportunity is an important factor in developing as an outlier.
Another key aspect in developing into an outlier is practice. Gladwell (2008) examined different areas, from sports, to music, to programming, and developed the 10,000-hour rule. A rule that claims it takes about 10,000 hours of practice for one to become an expert in any given field. Gladwell then examines a study on violinists done by psychologist K. Anders Ericsson at Berlin's elite Academy of Music. Anders examined the amount of practice each violinist put in, categorized them, and based on their responses, was able to support his hypothesis. Those who put in the most practice, about 10,000 hours, were the ones on their way to world-class status, a little less were the ones who...