Books, Life

The Story of Success – A Few Key Points from “Outliers”

I’ve always questioned what makes persons successful and others not. It seems that certain names are always on the tip of every person’s tongue when they define success, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. We all know of the most popular law chambers in our countries, we know the most successful businessmen but what gave them that advantage? And why is it especially in Barbados we haven’t seen a “great” business man of the size of Andrew Bynoe or COW Williams in recent generations? A few explanations from the book make sense and how those theories relate to me personally in my life.

I’ll try not to give away too much of the book, but I recommend that persons read it 100%. It will get you thinking critically about your history, your environment and if you have been successful in anything exactly why is that?

The 10 000 Hour Rule

One of the theories explored in the book is the 10 000-hour rule. A rule which states that to master anything a person has to devote 10 000 hours to it. 10 000 hours is 416 days, if divided into 8 hours a day it’s 3 and a half years. This rule seemed accurate and caused me to think what did I spend 10 000 hours doing in my 21 years of living. The easy answer? Reading. I thought further, and I believe this has a lot to do with why I chose law and eventually graduated. It has a lot to do with the start of this blog. What I would say to everyone moving away from the past is what are you going to spend your next 10 000 hours doing? What are you going to choose to master?

Economic Class is Very Relevant

In the book it is explained of how persons who are middle class and higher raise their children compared to those from lower classes. I found myself identifying completely with those from lower classes, the school is seen as responsible for our education not our parents, whatever we do is on our own accord and seen as part of our personality and not necessarily something to turn into a formal talent and there is a distance between the parent and the school. While there is not correct way to raise your children, each way has it’s pro and cons. For example, due to how I was raised I had responsibility, independence and my own decisions affected my life. During my time at Queen’s College I saw the other side quite often, parents who were so involved in their children’s lives, they moved from one activity to another, dancing, tennis, lessons. If something happened to their child, they called the school to inquire and were very involved in the decisions children made on what they were going to do for the rest of their lives. This was called “concerted cultivation” in the book and I know some people will relate to these two examples.

The Trouble with Geniuses

IQ is relevant only up to a certain point. This is very evident looking at life and those we deem a “success.” Something more is needed after a certain IQ level to really be a predictable case of success. Your practical intelligence, entitlement, confidence, creativity and much more come into play after a certain point. So, while we all encourage and celebrate “Academic Excellence” those children we focus so much on after common entrance or during scholarship awards may not necessarily be the ones who change the world. This is not to discount the hard work that persons put in to get to where they are but maybe we need to look for more in children to cultivate past a certain academic point.

The School System

In the book the author starts off with an explanation of agriculture in China versus agriculture in the West, a short explanation of how numbers are pronounced in Chinese compared to western countries and these things combined are the answer to the common question, Why are Chinese so good at math? From this explanation you’re probably confused so read the book.

What I can say is that I believe my success in school was due a lot to the principal of constant hard work. What I didn’t understand at the time was that it was hard work because I enjoyed reading and learning so much. During vacations I wanted to practice school work and go to camps where I could learn more, I read endlessly and came back the next school year better and even more “ahead.” He explains that poor children and wealthier children don’t have much of a difference in learning during school, but the difference becomes clear after summer vacations. With no money for summer camps and classes poor children are disadvantaged compared to others who are cultivated during this time. Some children watch TV all summer while others are encouraged to read, take classes and to never be “bored” but engage their brains at all times.

I enjoyed “hard work” but many children will resist. We have the potential to create many more “success” stories if we simply put in the time and effort and stop believing that things just “happen” without effort and hard work.


We cannot escape the system into which we are born and whether we think it affects us or not different countries based on their histories have different personality traits and customs deeply embedded. This really hit the spot living in Barbados where we seem to have a high-power index, we speak in polite ways and manners and have the utmost respect for authority figures. This influences how we all behave as a country and in many situations. Even if we may not necessarily like with how an authority figure is handling a process rarely ever will we take over or call them out. This can be seen from as far as politics to household situations.


I have a lot to think about in how I see myself and my future. Many of the stories I could relate to on one end of the spectrum or another. The book explains the success down to crucial details but doesn’t tell you how to become one. The reason may be simple, only so much of it depends on us. Work hard, grasp opportunities and see where life takes you because the other half is out of our control such as when we were born, ethnicity and community. I recommend again that everyone read the book.

If you want to read the book, I’ll be happy to share my copy with you just send me a message!

Until Next Time



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