Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Malcolm Gladwell at American Association of Museums Conference

Malcolm Gladwell (left) talked about his book, "Outliers" (right) at the annual conference of the American Association of Museums in Philadelphia in May, 2009.

He talked about how overcoming one's limitations has a stronger effect on future success than capitalizing on one's strengths. In Outliers, Gladwell introduced the 10,000 hour rule. People don't become "overnight successes". The most successful people have put in at least 10,000 hours of preparation and hard work before achieving success. And they have experienced many failures along the way.

According to Gladwell, this is why American school children are lagging behind other countries in educational achievement. Since Americans believe strongly in talent and genetic endowment, those with talent don't feel they have to work as hard and those without it figure there is no worth in even trying. This double whammy causes our brightest not to achieve to their potential and the rest not trying as hard as they should.

Another point Gladwell makes is that noone ever achieves success alone. The lone genius is a myth. Closer examination reveals that the most successful people have worked with others along the way to create their success.

We are having to reexamine our long held beliefs about talent and the lone genius to realize that success has always depended on hard work and collaboration.

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