The book – "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell
An outlier is a person or an event which varies a great deal from the norm, or the average. This can be someone who is much more successful than almost everyone else, or someone who is “luckier” than almost everyone else, or richer than almost everyone else, etc. In this book Malcolm looks at patterns which can be seen with almost everyone who is more successful, richer, more musically talented, etc. than almost everyone else. What he found is amazing! When we talk about people who are richer and more successful we usually talk about them being amazingly more talented, or amazingly more lucky. The truth is that there are predictable patterns which can be observed, and for almost every situation in which someone excels at their work, their music, their craft, or their art, these patterns are there to be seen.
What are the factors Malcolm Gladwell discovered? The first thing is to realize that people who are really successful, are actually intelligent and talented. The amazing thing though is that they are not that much more talented than many other people. They have had three things which the rest of their competitors did not have as much of. These three things are “Opportunities”, “The willingness to take advantage of those opportunities”, and … “TEN THOUSAND HOURS of practice!” That is 10,000 hours of applied hard work in real life situations, practicing their skills.
I recommend this book because it offers hope to many of us who are average or just slightly above average intelligence, or skill in a given area. This book shows numerous examples of how this pattern can be seen to be behind the phenomenal success we have seen throughout history in almost every area. This means that there have been people who had much higher IQ than Einstein, but they did not achieve as much, or even nearly as much as Einstein did. There have been people who were probably much more musically talented than The Beatles, but they did not achieve anywhere near the success that The Beatles did. What Malcolm Gladwell shows time and again with the patterns he uncovers is that you only need to be “just smart enough”, or “just talented enough”, and then you need opportunities, the willingness to grab those opportunities (motivation, interest, dedication), and 10,000 hours of practice. This pattern can be seen to be in place for all of the most successful people in the computer industry, including people like Bill Gates, and for The Beatles, and for the most successful athletes, etc.
Why am I writing about this book and these patterns in a blog about spirituality and the mind/body connection? Because I believe we can all reach the levels of connectedness and awareness of our spirituality which we have read about the great masters achieving in the centuries before us. I believe we can all reach these levels if we have the opportunities, take advantage of those opportunites, and we are willing to spend the TEN THOUSAND HOURS it may take us to reach mastery. Just to be clear, I don’t hold strongly to the belief that everyone needs to practice for 10,000 hours in order to reach enlightenment, or mastery. I just believe that most of us will require that level of practice and commitment and that nothing will block us from reaching our goals if we are willing to take advantage of opportunities, work diligently, and put in the 10,000 hours.
One of the three critical factors in the pattern Malcolm Gladwell has described is the factor of opportunities. Today the Internet, and blogs like this one, make those opportunities available to many more people than ever before. You can look to your favorite search engine to find just about anything you ever wanted to know about spirituality, spiritual teachers, and practices to help you advance your awareness of your spirituality. But, all the opportunities in the universe will not help you unless you are willing to take advantage of the opportunity and put the work into the process of practicing! The ancients have long described the process of “spiritual practices”, simply because it takes practice! Practice, Practice, Practice! And Malcolm Gladwell is not the only one who thinks that in order for one to master what they practice, they need to practice for 10,000 hours!
It may take a lot of practice for me to unravel the conditioning that has me feeling anything less than Love! I don’t know yet if I am up to the task. When it comes to being aware of my spirituality however, I know these two things for sure; that I haven’t given up yet, and I’m no where near my 10,000 hours.
We come from Love, we are made of Love, we are Love. Everything else is false.