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Life Arts    H4'ed 9/23/16

Outliers, Colorism, Cohorts, Bad Practices, Good Practices, & Better Analysis

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In short, many would-be geniuses are short-changed by the color of their skin or how society looks at them and their family or group cohort--or even at their generational cohort. These things and elements like them often change slowly--and the emphasis on skin color and looks is not the same across generations, for example. Moreover, other would-be geniuses or successful folks are short-changed because they simply lack the education or training in the soft skills to build important networks for success as they climb the ladder higher and higher.

However, according to Gladwell, at least two more variables (D and E) need to be positive in order for an outlier to be noticed by many as a successful and amazing being. D would represent the 10,000 hours principle. In his book, Gladwell(like many before him) notes that one does not become a world-class outlier by simply being born at the right time. In the cases of The Beatles in music and Bill Gates or Bill Joy in computer technologies or a successful law firm, like The Black Rock Law Firm, one of the key elements prescribed for success is a substantial amount of practice time before being recognized as being at the top of their field. How much practice is required or sufficient for that level of success?

"[S]tudy reveals that Gates and [Paul] Allen had thousands of hours of programming practice prior to founding Microsoft. First, the two co-founders met at Lakeside, an elite private school in the Seattle area. The school raised three thousand dollars to purchase a computer terminal for the school's computer club in 1968.[S]tudy reveals that Gates and Allen had thousands of hours of programming practice prior to founding Microsoft. First, the two co-founders met at Lakeside, an elite private school in the Seattle area. The school raised three thousand dollars to purchase a computer terminal for the school's computer club in 1968." In other words, before even going to college and then dropping out of college, for example, combined Paul Allen (b. 1953) and his friend, William Gates, ahad combine over 10,000 hours programming thanks to a lot of luck in where they went to high school. By the 1970s, how many 18 year-olds had so much practice time?In short, Gates and Allan were already extreme outliers in their age cohort, i.e. in terms of practice time, before many Americans had even touched a computer.

In other words, the "principle holds that 10,000 hours of "deliberate practice" are needed to become world-class in any field." However, this core element discussed and supported by Gladwell in his book, the 10,000 Hurs Principle is rejected by quite a few corner. For example, "a new Princeton study tears that [10,000 hour] theory down. In a meta-analysis of 88 studies on deliberate practice, the researchers found that practice accounted for just a 12% difference in performance in various domains." Nonetheless, as Gladwell recognizes also public performance and subconscious practicing in this variable (D), I doubt that the point he has made can truly be contested. (By the way, a 12% difference or improvement due to practicing is significant in my book. In short, experience matters for success.)

The fifth variable that effects success or opportunities for success among individuals or groups, according Malcolm Gladwell, is the domain of the cognitive paradigms present and often dominating within a culture, society, family, or world. These paradigms or cognitive rules of behavior, participation, and performance can have either a breaking, neutralizing, or accelerating effect on both opportunity, attitude of the individual or group (read group-think), all the elements and persons in which a person or cohort-community or cohort-generation are embedded. An example of this are the biases of colorism or racism, which were referred to at the top of this review.

Even American heroes of history, like George Washington Carver, who overcame the odds to succeed beyond other's dreams in fields of science and development, were obviously limited by the cultural beliefs of a succession of cohort generations whom they encountered. Likewise, other heroes like Jim Thorpe, definitely would have been more successful if they had been born in much later generations. In short, the dominating paradigms of a society do limit achievement. (However, success is not impossible to some or many. Nonetheless, how many more people--whose name we will never know--have had their lives or dreams cut short by the biases of culture, opinion, society, and the age in which they have lived? )

In conclusion, as a whole, the five key elements of success discussed by Malcolm Gladwell in OUTLIERS appear at face value to be necessary elements for success or to be a successful person or group. In short, all five of these necessary elements or facets of society (and one's cohort generation) support the hypothesis that nature is superior to nurture in terms of human development and success. In other words, testing and selecting the most gifted for extra-training or support is not necessarily the most important means of determining success (or successful candidate or candidates in any field). It is the society that one is born into which has the greatest effect on successful peoples and groups.

Nonetheless, the five elements discussed above are not sufficient for success nor for explaining success. Gladwell himself refers to some of these individuals in OUTLIERS. Dean Karnazes, the world's most successful endurance runner was one of these. Karnazes fell in love with running from an early age, and at high school he began to show endurance capabilities which far surpassed those of his peers. Opportunity has played a role in Karnazes fame and success, however, that has not been the key, he claims. "While supreme willpower is a common trait among ultrarunners, Karnazes first realised that he was actually biologically different when preparing to run 50 marathons in 50 days across the US back in 2006. "I was sent to a testing center in Colorado," he recalls. "First, they performed an aerobic capacity test in which they found my results consistent with those of other highly trained athletes, but nothing extraordinary. Next, they performed a lactate threshold test. They said the test would take 15 minutes, tops. Finally, after an hour, they stopped the test. They said they'd never seen anything like this before." This means, Karnazes was born differently, indeed, than most others on planet earth.

Moreover, Watch the video, 15 Real Life Superpowers or watch 10 Smartest Living People on Earth, and see what I mean about nature [5] and how some people seem to be born with extraordinary gifts that enable them to succeed. For every one who is born exceptional in whatever facet or area of life business, sports, science, etc. , I believe that Gladwell is correct in indicating that the masses of successful peoples and groups in societies across the globe, the vast majority are formed by nurture rather than nature.

NOTES

[1]"Discrimination based on skin color, or colorism, is a form of prejudice or discrimination in which people are treated differently based on the social meanings attached to skin color. Colorism, a term coined by Alice Walker in 1982, is not a synonym of racism." I recently published a short blog piece on this topic with images and links: Colorism seems to exist in every country on the globe .

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KEVIN STODA-has been blessed to have either traveled in or worked in nearly 100 countries on five continents over the past two and a half decades.--He sees himself as a peace educator and have been-- a promoter of good economic and social development--making-him an enemy of my homelands humongous DEFENSE SPENDING and its focus on using weapons to try and solve global (more...)
 

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