Why do some people succeed far more than others? That was the question Malcolm Gladwell wanted to answer with his newest book, Outliers: The Story of Success.
He came up with some unusual answers. He says that we usually expect a success story to be full of information about intelligence and ambition. Perhaps we should be looking for more information about such things as their family, their birthplace, or even their date of birth.
In a study of geniuses, business tycoons, rock stars, lawyers, pilots, and computer programmers, he examines outliers. Outliers are the men and women who do things that are out of ordinary.
Gladwell maintains that outliers have help along the way. Their achievement is less about talent than it is about opportunity. And most interestingly, it is a community around them that prepares them properly for the world that helps them to recognize opportunities and take advantage of them. Their uniqueness comes from the fact that many of these opportunities are such that no one else can see them or is prepared to step up to them. These opportunities progressively allow an accumulation of advantage that leads to success beyond comparison.
There are lots of interesting stories to illustrate the concept. For example, he explains what psychologists have discovered that explains why in a sport such as hockey…when you evaluate elite players…the odds are that nearly half of them will be born during the months of January through March. By being born during that time period, they tend to be physically bigger than players born progressively later in the year. Being bigger they start with a slight advantage that leads to learning experiences that may come in the form of word of mouth exchanges. This learning results in selection to all-star teams with better coaching, better teammates, more games, and more practice.
How do outliers convert the accumulated advantages into what Gladwell calls meaningful work? And how does meaningful work become the tip of the success iceberg that we normally see: intelligence and ambition? That is the challenge for you as a baby boomer entrepreneur.
Can you identify any accumulated advantage that has developed in your life that you can address with meaningful work in the form of a business? It is bridging this question that begins to give you the entrepreneurial mindset. Meaningful work by Gladwell’s definition is composed of three things: autonomy, complexity, and a connection between effort and reward. Look for the answer to identify your entrepreneurial idea, your unique dream opportunity.