Are personal qualities the sole reason one becomes an outlier?  

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No. Innate talent is only one of the attributes needed to become an outstandingly successful person. Malcolm Gladwell begins with these definitions of “outlier:”

  1. something that is situated away from or classed differently from a main or related body.
  2. a statistical observation that is markedly different in value from the others of the sample.

We’re used to hearing the stereotypical stories of folks who overcome insurmountable odds to make their rags-to-riches climbs to the top of their fields. After Gladwell analyzes the histories of Silicon Valley computer geeks, Jewish immigrant garment workers, Asian rice farmers and math students, Korean pilots, and many more examples, he comes to another conclusion: the stereotype is a myth. There are almost always hidden advantages of some kind. Cultural legacies and perfect timing by the calendar can combine to produce the right people doing the right thing at the right time. Sometimes, it’s a matter of where you were born and when, and how much time you could devote to your project.

They are products of history and community, of opportunity and legacy. Their success is not exceptional or mysterious. It is grounded in a web of advantages and inheritances, some deserved, some not, some earned, some just plain lucky—but all critical to making them who they are. The outlier, in the end, is not an outlier at all (285).

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