I might be a little behind here, but if you have kids, you have to read this book. Outliers was published in 2008! Where have I been? I saw everyone on the subway, at Starbucks and on park benches reading Gladwell’s other two bestsellers, The Tipping Point and Blink, but I had not heard about Outliers until two separate friends (also parents) recommended the book. We were all discussing the usual kid stuff: schools, having baby number 3, how guilty it made us feel to have “less” time for children born after the first, etc. I was in the middle of reading this “story of success” when we received interesting news about our almost 5 year old son Diego. His teacher and director of the school pretty much said, “your kid is in preschool and doing second grade work. Have you thought about alternative programs for him?” We were blown away and after reading this book, our heads cleared up a lot. In a nutshell, here is what Gladwell has to say.
What helps one succeed?
1. Birth date is important. If you want your child to always be the oldest in the class, having a child in December for our September to June school year will benefit him or her. Gladwell uses a lot of references about sports and cut-off dates. Older kids (by months!) can have more skills than a child 4-6 months younger!
2. The amount of hours a child practices something, an instrument, a sport, reading, cooking, etc., is super important. The more you do, the better we get. Easy huh? He’s talking about thousands of hours though.
3. Sometimes you have to shed a little from your cultural identity. As they say, “When in Rome…”
4. If an opportunity is given…TAKE IT!!!! Don’t be afraid to accept the unknown.
5. It takes a village. No one person can succeed alone. It takes parents, extended family, exposure, giving up weekends to enrich your children’s lives…It’s not about just you anymore mom and dad. You can’t just submerge yourself in your career to make more money to offer more to your child.
6. “Happy accidents” such as being born at the right time and having the right ethnicity.
7. Put it all together and give it all you got. Hard work. Period. Including summer vacations.
“It is not the brightest who succeed”, Gladwell writes, “it is a gift”.
Reading this book as our baby boy is taking his next step for the rest of his educational life, gave Jose and I some insight. We don’t know if Diego was born at the right time. What will life be like when he is in college? What will the world need from kids like him? We don’t know a lot of things but we do know that we won’t let him quit something he has started. For example, he said he wanted to do Tae Kwon Do, we paid the yearly class membership, he came home one day and said he didn’t want to do it anymore. Guess what? You’re doing it kiddo cause we paid the membership and after trying it until the activity is up, then you tell us if you want to continue or not. Fair. Don’t let your kids quit.
We also know that opportunities given to him, we must teach him to accept. So they tell us, “Diego will benefit from this…” we are going to jump all over it. Even if it takes some sacrifice on our part. And we have to teach him that hard work is part of the plan. You can’t get anywhere with out it. My favorite quote of the book? Not Gladwell’s! A Chinese saying, “No one who can rise before dawn three hundred sixty days a year fails to make his family rich”. Love it! And not because I want Diego to support us when he gets his first contract with Real Madrid! You can’t expect a monetary return when investing on your child’s future. Just hope for happiness.
Any other ideas?
Pick up the book!! Great read!