Success comes to those who will it—or not. Gladwell thinks it is a combination of various advantages and sheer determination coupled with hard work. It is something similar to Machiavelli’s “virtud” and “fortuna” but it is set on the contemporary time where the situation is no longer characterized by wars and the rule of the monarchs. This time around, the playing field is more evened with the onset of Globalization where everyone can compete with anybody using every means at his or her disposal. Look at, for example, how piracy is making a huge negative impact on the profits of big companies.
However, Gladwell is focused on the individual and the circumstances surrounding him or her. He gives an unconventional approach to achieving success that came out from reviewing how some successful icons achieved their place in the success ladder. This paper will examine Gladwell’s points through the life of John Lennon, an undeniably successful and iconic figure. The John Lennon? Tell Me More Julian Lennon, son of John Lennon, set up a website to commemorate the lives of the famous Lennon musicians. John Lennon is, of course, among those commemorated.
In the website, it was said that John Winston Lennon was born in October 9, 1940 while Hitler’s bombs were blowing up in Liverpool. His mother and father’s marriage ended in 1946 but Julia met Bobby Dykins a little later and moved with him. John would later live on Menlove Avenue with George and Mimi Smith at Mendips. He spent a happy and comfortable childhood at Menlove Avenue surrounded by his aunts and cousins. The love for reading and literary prowess was seen in him at an early age but he also exhibited naughtiness and mischievousness and got expelled from kindergarten.
He then moved to Dovedale Road Primary School and then to Quarry Bank High School in 1952. His lack of real interest in standard education despite his being bright and clever lead him t leave Quarry Bank without any formal qualifications earned. Nonetheless, his headmaster and a portfolio of his work helped him get accepted to Liverpool College of Art. He developed a love for music and pestered Mimi to buy him, which he played and made up tunes with in his bedroom until Mimi would get fed up and send him out to the porch and would tell him that he plays well but would never make a living out of it.
His mother died in a car crash in 1958 when John was seventeen. He would later recall that night as the worst night of his life because it seemed to him like he lost his mother twice, the first time being when Mimi machinated her into giving up John to her care when he was five. He also recalled that the incident made him bitter because he was just starting to rebuild the severed relationship with his mother then. He started a band at school called the Quarry Men who he entered in competitions with and performed with during their school dance.
John met Paul McCartney when the Quarry Men performed at the Woolton Parish Chrurch. The Beatles came together in 1960 with the voices of John, Paul, Pete Best George Harrison and Stuart Sutcliffe who left the band in 1961 and got replaced by Ringo Starr in 1962. Their performances started at the Jacaranda Coffee Bar owned by Allan Williams who organized for them to play in Hamburg, Germany. Their two-year stint (1960-1962) at Hamburg made a big impact on their career that when they returned to Liverpool, they secured regular gigs at the Cavern Club and were written about in the magazine Mersey Beat.
It was the owner of a local record shop, Brian Epstein, who signed them up and would later persist in getting them a record deal in 1962 with Parlophone. They released their first single that year and the second single the following year. They conquered United States in 1964 and were rapidly rising as icons of the “Swinging Sixties. ” In 1962, John married Cynthia Powell who gave birth to Julian in 1963. He, however, was not an exemplary family man as he was always busy with tours and had some experiments with drugs.
Around 1966, he met and got involved with the artist Yoko Ono who he married in 1969 after his divorce with Cynthia in 1968. In 1971, the Beatles made their final appearance as a band in the High Court. John and Yoko decided to settle in New York in September 3, 1971. John died on December 8, 1980, leaving his music and the success of the Beatles as a legacy. The Outlier Principle Gladwell defined outlier as a noun that means: “1. something that is situated away from or classed differently from a main or related body, and 2.
a statistical observation that is markedly different in value from the others of the sample” (3). Best took Gladwell’s book as one that can be treated as sociological because Gladwell was actually arguing that success does not simply come out of individual character but is also dependent on social context such as youth hockey participation (47). As certain as some people are born lucky and some people work hard without luck, Gladwell views luck as an outcome of social arrangements that are more advantageous to some more that it is for others (Best 48).
Outliers are then people who have achieved success not only by sheer luck but also determination and hard work. The luck in this context is not something that is drawn out of spells and charms but the situation upon which the person in question is born to. Gladwell has been quoted as saying, “Outliers are those who have been given opportunities and who have had the strength and presence of mind to seize them,” (Tonkin 2008). Whether John Lennon is an outlier or not, we will find out as this paper proceeds. The Matthew Effect In his book, Gladwell discusses about the Matthew Effect and how it can contribute to success.
What the Matthew Effect is pointing out is that success elevates self-confidence and mood in order that more successes are bred while repeated failure leads to the decline of self-confidence and initiative as well as the lowering of mood and reduction of attractiveness that an individual becomes prone to more failure (Sloman 93). John Lennon has had trouble with conforming to school standards but his IQ was never put in a bad light. When he first held a guitar, he was chastised for making so much noise but still praised for his talent. When he started the Quarry Men, the crowd in school raved about them.
When the Beatles came together, they had an even greater success. John Lennon had succeeded in the areas of his life that he wanted to succeed in. He continually got praises for the things he did and it did well in boosting his self-confidence, mood and attractiveness. He received negative criticisms for how he does the things he love but never for his talent and abilities. Matthew Effect, indeed, is evident in John Lennon’s road to success. The 10, 000 Hour Rule Gladwell also talked about the 10, 000 Hour Rule where a person needs 10,000 hours of practice in order to become an expert at anything.
He points out that the Beatles did not succeed by putting little effort and working out charm. Instead, their success can be attributed to how they put in long hours each day performing in various clubs and in various styles in their early years in Hamburg that they have actually honed their skills which helped them become exceptional. John Lennon was a part of this band and put in as much hours as the others. He even started earlier because he started polishing his musical skill as soon as he held a guitar and continued to do so with the Quarry Men and then later on with the Beatles.
Advantageous Era of Birth John Lennon was born at a time when Hitler’s bombs were blowing up every which way in Germany. He grew up at a difficult time but he did not really have a difficult life. In fact, his life with Mimi was described as “comfortable, middle class existence” (Lennon 2010). Even if he was born in an era of struggle, it is not really safe to conclude that he struggled with the rest and that the struggle taught him values in order to achieve success as Gladwell point out in saying that an advantageous ear of birth contributes to success.
In other words, the era of Lennon’s birth is not really an advantage that catapulted him to his success. Born in a Demographic Trough There were people who were born at a time when the birth rate took a steep fall as Gladwell has described “demographic trough. ” This situation that took place between the 20s and the 40’s was due to one of the most difficult situations that struck America: the Great Depression of the 1930s. Thus, people who were born at this time were born into poverty but there were a lot of advantages to be enjoyed such as smaller class sizes, more college places available, and less job competition.
John Lennon was born around this time but his disinterest in formal education makes the first two advantages insignificant. He can, however, be viewed as having less competition. With a talent like his, he is bound to get noticed with only so few talents lying around and fewer still who would like to market those talents. Exposure to Meaningful Work John Lennon is not really unaware of his talent nor is he overconfident about it. When he performed even as a member of a local band, he worked hard at experimenting and improving his talent.
With the Beatles in Hamburg, they had to perform long hours while employing variations in their style so that the people will not get tired of listening to them. Thus, they had the advantage of continually improving on their talents and skills that led to them being icons of the sixties. The Presumption of Being Heard It was to John Lennon’s advantage that he was competing with less people. Add to this, the people were willing to listen to him. They were willing to give him (and the Beatles) a chance.
When he was young, his literary prowess was not discouraged. His musical talent was noticed and enhanced when he went to Art School. People were willing to give him a chance despite his mischief and naughtiness. He was able to freely express his music and his talent that he also believed he can succeed at what he was doing and succeed he did. Cultural Practices It was, perhaps, unlucky that John Lennon only succeeded in building on only in one area of his talent—music. He was noted to have written good poems of which some were turned into songs.
Imagine if John Lennon was not forced to go through formal education and went straight to an Art school where they could have trained him to improve more in his artistic ability. He could have been an exceptional writer as much as he was an exceptional musician. Cultural practices can sometimes hinder or push an individual to develop skills that would help him or her succeed. If we would consider formal education as a part of western culture, we can look at John Lennon’s partially ignored literary prowess as a consequence of culture.
Otherwise, culture may have to be deeply examined in order to give justice to John Lennon’s success as an individual. Conclusion In an interview with Williams, Gladwell said he wrote Outliers because he thinks that our definition of success is crude. By crude he means that we define success by focusing too much on the individual or “on describing the characteristics and habits and personality traits of those who get furthest ahead in the world” (Williams 2008). He thinks that this is a problem because we fail to consider the individual’s environment.
In other words, we fail to see that an individual’s culture and community might also have something to do with his or her success as much as his or her personality. While it is true that Gladwell is suggesting a path to success that takes in a wider perspective, it is still individualistic in nature. It is true that the environment and community will do a lot in nurturing a successful individual but it would still be only one person who will succeed and not the whole community.
DeWitt believes that what we should be learning from Gladwell is to make opportunities for success more accessible to many, bolstering “national competitiveness in the international marketplace” in order to achieve the common good (2009). It is somehow difficult to think of success or how one can succeed at any given circumstance with how Gladwell perceived the road to success should be. He says that one should take advantage of situations but the situations he gave as examples are rare and not typical situations. It’s almost as if no one can really succeed on an ordinary day.
If you were born of Chinese parents and raised with Chinese values but lived in a very different culture such as America, which culture should you be adhering to? Taken contextually, it would appear that no matter how much you effort your parents have given for you to embrace Chinese values, you would eventually have to do what the Romans do and succumb to American principles of achieving success. One famous person who has seized every opportunity to experiment and succeed is Milton Friedman whose ways were unconventional and publicly criticized by Naomi Klein in her “Shock Doctrine.
” If Gladwell was thinking like Friedman then we would be looking at opportunities of success equal to disaster capitalism. It would devalue us as humans. It strips us from our ethical beliefs in order to achieve success. Individual success is achievable through hard work and luck. It is more achievable when we take others into consideration but not as people we could “use” in order to succeed but people who we can work with in order that we all succeed as a team. Success is more satisfying if it is achieved through teamwork. Works Cited: Best, Joel and best.
“Sociologists as outliers. ” Contexts; Understanding People in Their Social Worlds 8. 2 (2009):46-50. DeWitt, Mark. “Notes on Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, Conclusion. ” 30 May 2009. Web. 14 july 2010. Gladwell, Malcom. Outliers: The Story of Success. New York: Little Brown and Company, 2008. Lennon, Julian. “John Winston Lennon. ” 2010. Web. 14 July 2010. Sloman, Leon. “The Matthew Effect: Evolutionary Implications. ” Evolutionary Psychology 24. 2 (2004): 92-104. Williams, Brooke. “What is Outliers About? ” in Gladwell. com Official Website. 2008. Web. 14 July 2010.Sample Essay of StudyFaq.com