My Read of the Month:

Title: , Outliers: The Story of Success
Author: Malcom Gladwell
Published: 2008
Genre: Social Psychology/Business
Ratings: 4.0 out of 5 stars

After reading Malcom’s earlier book- The Tipping Point, I thought I would grabbed my hands on this latest title. And I’m not disappointed that I did.

In Outliers, Malcom reveals secret patterns behind everyday phenomena of success. Using several case studies, Malcom goes against conventional thinking that ambition, talent and IQ are the only contributing factors to success.

These outliers (meaning something or someone who is markedly different in value from the others in sample) are outliers more because of a convergence of events entirely out of their control that have created extraordinary opportunities. And had it not been for those opportunities, they may never have become outliers.

Living in a meritocracy society, it is obvious that those who do better would be given more attention to cultivate the talent. So he investigates the possibility that success that could be a result of a random advantage. Like the month we were born in comparison to our peers?

For example, in school, a few months of maturity will likely translate to quicker comprehension, better behavior, and more likely to stand out as “brighter” than the rest, when really they’re merely older.  But the proof is in the numbers, and Gladwell presents plenty of them.

Apart from the age factor, Malcom goes on explain the factor of 10,000 hours. This means getting the chances to practice a skill for at least 10,000 hours which for instance, path the way for the Beatles and Bill Gates towards success during their time. He also includes the idea that cultural legacy as an integral part of the success formula.

In essence, Malcom concludes that outliers are products of history and community, of opportunity and legacy. Their success is not exceptional or mysterious and are grounded in a web of advantages and inheritances. All these are critical to making them who they are.

Reading this has inspired me to think beyond my lifetime and to be determined in living a solid legacy for my children and the next generation.

This is a highly entertaining and enlightening book. Go read it. You won’t regret getting your hands on this one.

Who should read it: For anyone and everyone.

Character: The Key to True Success

Everybody is in a natural pursuit of success and never failure in life.

But what exactly is success? And how do we measure it?

These are personal and fundamental questions that each of us need to constantly discover and define in any phase of our life.

Building a foundation for success

Our world mainly defines success by measuring it in terms of power, position, recognition, material possessions and wealth.

And most of us (consciously or unconsciously) make this our life-long mission to attain all of these. However, in that pursuit, one key aspect of success is grossly overlooked- Character.

As much as  these (power, position, recognition, material possessions and wealth) are important, one should never neglect the development of one’s character.

Character should measure up as equally if not more important then all the rest. In my opinion, character serves as the foundational pillar that holds everything else together in one’s life.

Try not to become a person of success, but rather a person of value.

Albert Einstein

When we have character, we become a person of value and influence; not just with our ability, but with our reliability.

In other words, having character not only attracts success towards us, but also sustains success in our lives.

Measuring character

If character is that much important, why are most of us not actively analysing and developing it in the same manner we do with our wealth, material possessions and etc…?

In my opinion, one of the main reasons is because character is neither quantifiable nor it is easily measured like how wealth, position or material possessions are.

For what we cannot measure, we cannot manage. And what we cannot manage, we cannot develop or grow.

Moreover, there is no recognised standard of measurement for good character for us to measure up against.

For instance, it may be easy to measure wealth or position against others around us like Warren Buffett or Barrack Obama.

But not so for character, where is a standard or example of a good character that all of us can measure up to without any dispute?

The standard of success

Personally, I discovered that standard of good character in the person named Jesus Christ. He is the Son of God.

I also think He is the best existing standard cos He is morally perfect and widely known. But of cos, I’m aware that not everyone is willing to readily acknowledge or accept Him as that standard.

Nonetheless, I look to Him as my standard of good character.

With Him, I am able to measure my character against His. This I do by reading the Bible as illustrated in the scripture below:

“Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this will be blessed in what he does.”

James 1:23-25

Make no mistake that success is incomplete and never lasting without being backed by a character that is strong and good.

The Bible with its principalities and statutes serves as a credible mirror to reflect and measure our level of character. In this way, we are able to identity and manage areas of our character that requires development.

For this reason, if we do not read and study the Bible regularly, its probably time for us to do so.

And if we have not been upclose and personal with Jesus enough to be convinced if He is of a good character worthy to follow, then we should do so.

For with Him and in Him, the door of true success opens to us.


The Environmental Factor on Your Vision

The kind of environment that you place yourself in can limit your vision.

Using myself as an example when I grew up with a gang during my teens. My vision was to own a club or a pub.

Some of my other peers in the gang aspired to be loan sharks, drug pushers, bouncers or managers for a disco or pub.

Obviously, our vision was much influenced and limited by our environment.

Not surprisingly, most of us did not pursue or further our studies as our aspirations didn’t require any high academic qualifications.

This taught me that no one can grow beyond his vision. In other words, the greatness of your vision will determine the greatness of who you can be or what you can achieve.

More about the environment factor

Another influencing factor about our environment is that it largely determines how successful we can be with our vision. Not finding an environment that supports us can cause us to fail.

Tiger Woods’ genius came out from golf courses. If he was a jockey, he would not have been successful. Likewise, Mick Jagger who initially studied to be an accountant, found his genius on stage as a Rolling Stone.

For me, after I became a Christ-follower, I entered a new environment with a church community. That developed me spiritually and practically. God used the right environment to change and define my vision and mission in life.

Choosing your environment

Similarly, as employees, we are probably working in an environment designed for those who work not to lose- people who want job security and a steady pay check. This can be described as a poor environment.

Many people who want to become rich fail to become rich simply because they are rich people in a poor environment. Employers who create such environments attract and keep good employees- employees who are happy working not to lose. And one such  obvious environment is the government service.

Like how a tree will grow strong and big with  the right environment that provides a healthy dosage of sunshine, water and fertile ground to take root. The same is true with us as people.

Choosing the right environment (led by God) to be rooted will not only shape your vision, but will largely determine your success in achieving it.