Roadmap for Outliers

Roadmap for Outliers

Why do some people succeed and others don’t? Why do some people live remarkably productive and impactful lives while so many others never reach their potential? With this provocative question in mind the Canadian author Malcolm Gladwell looked at the lives of outliers, from Mozart to Bill Gates. In his fascinating book called Outliers he builds a convincing case for how successful people rise on a tide of advantages, “some deserved, some not, some earned, some just plain lucky.” Gladwell stresses five key elements. If you are too busy to read Outliers because you are becoming a successful outlier yourself, here they are, together with pertinent questions to set yourself on the road to success:

  1. Skill. Skills, strengths and abilities are as much about Emotional Intelligence as about IQ. And furthermore you need many people to help you along the way and you need divergent brainstorming skills. Tough questions to ask yourself: How skilled are you in enrolling others in your ideas? How often can you persuade others to help you? What can you be doing to develop your right-brained idea generation
  2. Relevance. The big ideas of today will not be the big ideas of tomorrow. It is important to pick long term trends that are emerging. Tough questions to ask yourself: What is likely to be the long term trends and challenges of your sector? If you are stuck in a disappearing sector, what is your plan to get out of it?
  3. Timing. When people are fast-tracked for success then it is a huge advantage to have timing on your side. Tough questions to ask yourself: Where can you be the big fish in the small pond? How can you use that to get preferential experience?
  4. Effort. Persistence, grit and self efficiency are all necessary in getting ahead. Don’t predict geniuses too young: mastery only happens after 10,000 hours of practice. Determination and persistence exist when people are doing what they love. The chances that people are doing what they love are bigger when they are autonomous, have a sufficiently complex task (to enable flow) and when there is a connection between the effort and the reward. A reward can be a payoff or feedback. Tough questions to ask yourself: Are you on track to get 10,000 hours experience? What needs to change in your life to get more? How much grit do you have in life?
  5. Cultural predisposition. Parents play a huge role in teaching kids to be assertive and to question authority. But our predisposition is also influenced by former generations. War-mongering for instance is much more genetic than we realize. Tough questions to ask yourself: How assertive and questioning are you? When do you allow yourself to be steam-rollered rather than standing up for your beliefs? How much do you allow others working for you to question your judgement or decisions?

On track? Can’t get enough? Well, there are more books we suggest that you read:

6 thinking hats by Edward de Bono

Made to stick by Chip Heath

Blue Ocean Strategy by Chan Kim and Renee Maubourgne.

The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman

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