Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Outliers, Open and Overlapping Philosophies

"Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell

I bought "Outliers" along with "God Delusion" a year back. God Delusion, however, absorbed so much of my time that I could only start reading Outliers this April. But this time I gave up procrastination and finally completed the book in a month. Pheww ! Learned it the hard way that philosophy isn't my cuppa tea!

There are certain books which have capability to change your point of view, your perception about a topic and outliers is one such novel. It has changed the way I see success and successful people. It says, and also remarkably proves by providing insights into past lives of successful people, that success is not all about intelligence. It is not all about just being an outlier. To be successful you don't have to be highly intellectual, but just enough. In fact if you look into the past lives of successful people they stop appearing to be an outlier and it feels like success was bound to happen to them.

According to Malcolm, success equals an amalgam of lots and lots of factors other than intelligence like 10,000 hours of practice, ability to clearly convey your thoughts and to communicate well with others, to have a focus towards your goal and cease opportunities whenever they come your way, your family, friends, environment and most importantly the year of your birth and the demography. 

Apart from all this there is one more conclusion I have drawn from the book. I have tried to explore the other side of the coin by thinking about the people who have failed in their lives or could not achieve what they wished for. You cannot simply label them as lesser intellectuals. They may be geniuses, they may be more intelligent and focused than anyone else, who just didn't get enough opportunities or may be who just chose to live a life beyond the horizon of their skills. Hence, NEVER JUDGE !

It also feels amazing to read how far Malcolm knows about his family line. If you ask me, let alone the family line, I hardly know much about my grand father! Malcolm, however, mentions about his grand grand grand parents in the last chapters who happened to live during early 1800s! He not only writes about their occupation but also how his grandparents met and under which circumstances they got married. No wonder if his family maintains a book about their stories!

In short, a must read book.

"Open" - Autobiography Andre Agassi

Once while stalking @doctoratlarge on twitter I found him claiming Agassi's autobiography as the best. Even better than that of God's (Sachin.. ofcourse)! And I took no time ordering the book, after all Agassi is also one of my favorites. Hence, post Outliers it was "Open". 

Don't be surprised that I completed the book in just 16 days. Pace with which you complete a book clearly shows your interest. Tennis! Yeah! Philosophy.. neah !! 

However, let me give credit to Agassi too. He has got such an interesting life that it seemed as if I am watching a movie. Sentences so clear, paragraphs so lucid, humour sprinkled everywhere and insights into the thought process that Agassi describes in the book really makes it worth reading. I have hardly read any autobiographies before but I won't shy away giving this one a 5 star.

Overlapping Philosophies

While I was reading Open I discovered a new change in me. I have begun correlating philosophies across books. I have identified an overlapping philosophy between both these books. This is the reason why I wrote one long post instead of two separate ones.

In Open, I learned that Agassi was a prodigy. He began playing tennis and winning junior matches at very early age. He even once faced Pete who couldn't give him any challenge whatsoever. However, it was Pete who went on to win more slams than Agassi, in fact, more slams than anyone in the history of tennis. Head to head, Pete was a clear winner. Of course, Agassi has his set of achievements too, however, Pete clearly makes a mark when it comes to being a legend. 

But Agassi was a child prodigy. He had everything from environment to money to plenty of opportunities lined up to be grabbed. But he couldn't go past Pete. This is because of the WILL. Agassi was directed by his strict father throughout his childhood which made him a rebel as he grew up. He wanted more attention and made choices in his life which took his focus away from the game. This can also be proven by the fact that when Agassi came out of that "Brooke obsession phase" of his life, became stable and started dating Steffi, he found a new force within him. He won slams being the oldest player in the lot. So Agassi was a clear cut genius but it was Pete who by passed him by his sheer will and focus.

I am eager to read more books and check if this overlapping of philosophies keeps on happening or is it just one co incidence ;)

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