Have you ever wondered how the super-rich got so rich, or how people become insanely successful?  What is it that they have that we ordinary people don’t? Are they smarter than us?  Luckier than us?  More motivated than us?

There are essentially three ways of getting rich.  Some people are born with a silver spoon in their mouths, others are ‘self-made’, and still others, although very few, become extremely wealthy through the blessings of Lady Luck (like winning the lottery).  And if you listen closely, an overwhelming number of ‘self-made’ millionaires and billionaires attribute their success to hard work, drive and perseverence.  Now, I am a total believer that this combination of attitude and values will help you get to the top.  But, do you believe that that’s all it takes?  If yes, why are there not many more disgustingly wealthy people in the world?

Those are some of the questions swimming around in my head whenever I day dream about how I can make lots of money so that I don’t have to work and just travel around the world.  Then I came across a book by Malcolm Gladwell titled Outliers: The Story of Success that shed a whole different light on the sucessful and wealthy. I know he has written other books such as Blink and The Tipping Point, which my husband told me were also extremely worthwhile reading.  But I haven’t read those yet.

In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell presents his theory on how people like Bill Gates, the Beatles, athletes, etc. become rich and famous. In addition to hard work and motivation, he points to the familial, environmental, cultural, and other idiosyncratic factors that help shape a successful person. He argues that success is not attained by oneself, as many successful people claim. What about their upbringing, the era in which they were born, the opportunities afforded them, the cultural influences? These are just as important, if not more so, than the individual characteristics. To fully understand how successful people become successful, you need to look deeper than just what you see and hear. There are a lot of other factors that help them rise to the top, factors that they may not be even aware of and cannot control.

It’s amazing how, for a selected few, the universe seems to align perfectly for them. No one is really a ‘self-made’ success, not even over-achievers. Outliers has opened my eyes to the unseen forces that shape a person’s life. This book is an extremely interesting read and I highly recommend it.

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