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Brian Becraft October 14, 2013 Engl.

1101-091 Adam Padgett

What is Success? Defining success is something that can be incredibly variable around the world. Every person has their own definition of success and what it takes to be successful. In Outliers, Gladwell wants to turn the way that we view success on its head. Gladwell spends the entire book trying to give a different perspective of success and to get people to think about why people become successful. I would agree with Gladwells perspective; success is something that takes practice but also takes an incredible amount of luck and circumstance. in order to become an outlier. Often, the people in the right place at the right time with talent will strive and blossom into incredibly successful people. The key though, is the combination of talent, circumstance and luck. This combination can breed successful people, and I believe as a society we need to reevaluate how we define success. In the first chapter of the book Gladwell talks about the importance of birth months in sports. It is really a fascinating approach to explaining success. To think that something so trivial as birth month could affect the success of a person is a very taboo idea. As I looked at the data Gladwell provides, I saw a very common reoccurrence. Many of these hockey players were born in the beginning of the year. So why is that? Gladwell says that it is, Simply, in Canada the

Comment [AP1]: Good, clear title.

Comment [AP2]: I really like the last sentence clause here. I want to hear more on your ideas as it pertains how/why we should reevaluate how we define success.

eligibility cut off dates for age-class hockey players is January 1st. (Page 24) The importance of this fact is that now you could potentially have some very old kids in their age class in comparison to kids who have birthdays later in the year. The reason this is so important is due to a physical difference in ability. At this level of adolescence someone could be much faster or stronger than his opponents and thus this causes him to thrive in the sport. For me, this was the most important piece of evidence when looking at the argument of opportunity and chance in regards to success. This was a prime example that success is not just talent driven. If success were totally talent driven, we would not see this overwhelming majority of hockey players born in the beginning of the year. Instead, we would see a much more even spread across all months of the year. Gladwell argues that, We overlook just how large a role we all play- and by we I mean society- in determining who makes it and who doesnt. (Page 33) I would agree with Gladwell that as a society we have more of an influence in success than people want to believe. People want to believe that the incredibly talented are the ones who will become successful. Society as a whole wants to believe that we determine our own success, but the first chapter of this book tries to discredit this theory. As I stated in my thesis, success is not solely reliant on talent, nor is it solely reliant on circumstance and luck. In order to be successful, it takes a combination of talent and chance. In the second chapter of this book, Gladwell introduces us to the 10,000 hour rule. Basically the rule states that in order to become a master of a skill or talent, a person must practice for a minimum of 10,000 hours. The sole message Gladwell is trying to convey in this chapter is that success is not singularly based on chance or luck. People that are incredibly successful do have an immense amount of talent and they achieve this level through practice. So, according to the rule of 10,000 hours, after I practice this amount of time I should become a master and therefor
Comment [AP4]: Good. I like the assertiveness here. Comment [AP3]: Okay, good. I like how you seem to be taking a particular stance here.

incredibly successful. The problem with this thinking is that it doesnt incorporate opportunity, which we know plays a role. So where does opportunity fit into the rule? Simply, opportunity often allows people to be able to practice for this amount of time. This chapter allowed me to realize the importance of the mixture. Incredibly untalented people will not become successful even if given the opportunity. Success is bred when talented people are given an opportunity and I think Gladwell made that a point in this chapter. So we know it takes chance and we know that it takes talent to become successful. So why write a book about it? There has to be other reasons why people become successful. I believe that culture is the final key to success. Cultural backgrounds help put people in the perfect situation to become successful. The best example I can think of from my own perspective would be to look at professional athletes. If you examine the family backgrounds of many successful athletes youll often find that their parents played sports professionally. I believe that the significance of this is the culture they are around growing up. As a kid, they saw their Dad or Mom playing a professional sport and they were influenced by that culture. As they grow up, they have a passion for that specific sport, or sports in general, and it makes them want to work hard to be like their parents. Often, this hard work puts their ability above others and they, in turn, become successful. I believe that this idea is what Gladwell is trying to get at in the latter part of the book. Gladwell talks about the culture of people and how this affects their opportunities for success. Their problem was that they were trapped in roles dictated by the heavy weight of their countrys cultural legacy. (Page 219) This quote was in regards to pilots and the problems that culture had on their ability to communicate adequately. To me, this quote could be applied far beyond just the example with pilots. Culture is something that all of us are engrained with from a young age. These values and behaviors we learn at a young age often stay
Comment [AP5]: Okay, but you state in your intro that success needs to be redefined (or reevaluated). So how are you defining success and how does that definition affect your analysis here?

instilled within us for our entire lives. The problem with this, in my opinion, is that culture is constantly changing. Cultural norms for our parents are now considered taboos and I think its important to constantly adapt to societys beliefs. I believe that culture is the key piece in circumstance which allows people to become successful. People who grow up in a culture where they can adapt and are exposed to opportunity are put in the right circumstances to become successful. I believe that culture is that last piece of the formula for success. I believe that Gladwell did a great job in Outliers of getting the reader to reevaluate success. I know I really took a step back and looked at why people become successful. I used to believe that it was only the geniuses or the superstar athletes who became successful simply because they were just better than everyone else. This book made me realize maybe my preconceived notion of what breeds success is skewed. Maybe there is more to success than just talent. After reading this book I would have to say I agree and would argue with Gladwell. I believe that success is a formula. That formula has three parts. The first part is culture, someone who grows up in the right or prime cultural circumstance will have an advantage. From these cultural advantages they get better opportunities. Lastly, from these better opportunities rises the chance to practice and master a skill. The combination of these three factors breeds success. Without all three of these factors, someone will never become successful. After reading this book, I think, as a society, we should take a step back and redefine our views of success. Brian, I think youve done a really great job with your anlaysis here and have done a really good job asserting your particular thesis. Though, I would like for you thesis to be a little more clearly stated in the beginning. I think I might have contention with the notion that all three of these
Comment [AP8]: Okay, so may to say that we should redefine our views of achieving success is a more accurate phrasing of what youre trying to say. I say this because I dont think youve really redefined success here. Comment [AP7]: Okay, so this seems to be your thesis. Comment [AP6]: So your saying that no one can be successful without the right culture, the right opportunity, and the right work ethic? That all three of these must be in alignment in order to be successful? I ask this because your refer to them as ingredients, which implies that the result is not achievable without its components, if that makes sense.

ingredients are necessary in order to achieve success, if we are defining success loosely. I think I need more specificity with this particular definition. But otherwise, I think your analysis demonstrates thoughtful reflection on the material and I really do like the assertive tone you ve adopted while supporting a clear thesis. Good work here.