What is Malcolm Gladwell's cultural legacy in the book Outliers: The Story of Success?

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durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Malcolm Gladwell is a firm believer in potential. It is making the most of potential that ensures results. In The Outliers, Gladwell focuses on time, place and opportunity as being crucial in realizing potential. He is a huge believer in the mantra of "practice makes perfect" and refers to the "10 000-Hr Rule," in ensuring mastery of a skill.  

In Part two of his book, Gladwell discusses the effect of culture on success and how a legacy endures, "generation after generation." Passing on beliefs, ideas and methods of doing things all relate to a cultural legacy. This way, special skills are passed down and a unique environment is created and preserved allowing for descendants to acquire and become specialists in the same field of expertise as their parents and grandparents, for example.

A cultural legacy can have either a positive or negative effect on success. Gladwell uses the example of Korean pilots, so affected by the power and control system of their country, that a high failure rate previously prevailed and pilots would crash their planes with regularity and far beyond any norms. Altering their cultural legacy, at least in their immediate environment, allowed them to overcome this legacy of failure by promoting and encouraging a more collaborative and combined atmosphere. It all comes down to expectations. 

Gladwell admits that some of his claims are cliché, when he talks of communities and feelings of belonging but that does not make them any less true.  He strongly advocates the philosophy that, "What we do as a community, as a society, for each other, matters as much as what we do for ourselves." Self-made men are not self-made purely from their own grit and determination but from their circumstances, opportunities and support system. 

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