Malcolm Gladwell vs. the Self-Made Man

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Malcolm Gladwell vs. the Self-Made Man

Innlegg Panther 12 Mai 2009, 17:50

By Randal Allen ⋅ May 10, 2009

Want to know the secret of success? If you’re thinking hard work or talent, think again, at least according to Malcolm Gladwell. His new book Outliers suggests that the secret is waiting for your ship to come in.

A central case study in Outliers is the story of the young Bill Gates. Gladwell presents Gates not as a “self-made” computer entrepreneur but as the beneficiary of extraordinarily lucky circumstances. In eighth grade, Gladwell tells us, Gates was lucky enough to go to an elite private school, which was lucky enough to receive a donation to rent one of the very few existing private computer terminals. Gates was then lucky enough to land a job testing computer programs by day in exchange for practice time at night and then lucky enough to land the same deal with a second company when the first went bankrupt. Later, Gates was lucky enough to have access to a computer at a nearby university, which luckily enough happened to be free from three to six in the morning. By Gates’ high school graduation, Gladwell notes, Gates had the opportunity to log thousands of hours at a computer, when the vast majority of people had not even touched one. With this extraordinary advantage, Gladwell asks, how could that eighth grader not become a billionaire computer entrepreneur?

What makes Gates truly unique is not his opportunities, but his indefatigable persistence to take every advantage of his opportunities. When given the option of sleep or pursuing his interest in computers, he chose computers. Consistently. For years. How many people would do the same? How many other people in his neighborhood had the exact same opportunity but chose sleep?

To call our great achievers “self-made” is high praise, praise that is completely warranted. These singular individuals capitalized on opportunities in ways undreamt of by their peers. The success they achieved was a result of personal determination and spectacular vision. Wrongly attributing triumph to circumstance denies the struggle of a well-fought victory and the admiration that such a victory deserves. And worse—the notion that we are nothing more than a product of our environments makes the effort necessary to overcome obstacles seem futile. Whatever thought Gladwell’s work may provoke, whatever entertainment he may provide, he is clearly mistaken—it is not luck, but the choices we make that determine the courses of our lives.

Med andre ord en sterkt imoralsk og ond bok.
Ken-G. Johansen.
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