Monday, January 31, 2011

Give or take

Tyler Cowen calls Outliers 'a good book and a fun book', but that is at the end of a post pointing towards other more powerful (in his view) arguments. I really enjoyed Outliers, and am now really enjoying what I would think is a book in a very similar mould - Bounce, by Matthew Syed.

At the heart of Outliers seems to be the message that circumstance plays a huge role in success. Bounce (though I just on the second chapter) - follows up the Outliers' ten thousand hour rule and the impact of practice.

I like philosophies that emphasise accountability. More and more, I believe that within the boundaries of circumstances we are given extraordinary power to do things. Power we can use or not. It seems obvious beyond stating that someone who eventually succeeds will have had circumstances align. We don't live in isolation. When you do something, circumstance and effort align. If you are really passionate about something, and willing to put in the effort you can do incredible things. Perhaps the effort is through flow (something you love and don't notice the time passing when doing), or perhaps it is through brute force. I am more of a fan of the effort theory, than the circumstance theory. That probably goes without saying since it opens up more possibilities and is perhaps more PC.

I don't believe that 'we can do anything we put our minds to'. There are limits. I will never win an Olympic 100m gold medal. Even if I drop everything else. The art is knowing the limits, and testing the limits - and perhaps if you love it enough, ignoring the limits and finding they disappear.

At the end of the day, we all have about 100 years. Give or take. What you do with it is up to you.

Exciting times.
Post a Comment