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As Luck Would Have It

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Autor:   •  October 11, 2017  •  Essay  •  1,131 Words (5 Pages)  •  138 Views

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As Luck Would Have It

Born too early to travel space, born too late to “discover” new lands; this is the mentality of many as the world becomes increasingly populated and competitive for success. Many individuals dream of rising from rags to riches, longing to do the same as those titled “entrepreneurs” in magazines. Many believe that as long as one works hard, they will find happiness and success despite poor upbringings and socioeconomic conditions. However, Malcolm Gladwell argues in Outliers that there is no such thing as a “self-made man”, and that background- such as family ties, wealth, and practical intelligence- does matter. “Outliers are those who have been given opportunities- and who have had the strength and presence of mind to seize them.” Employing a variety of examples and anecdotes, Gladwell presents an unequivocal case which cannot be argued against. Though more importantly, despite Gladwell’s undeniable thesis, he implied but never directly admitted a crucial aspect of his argument: the gifted role of luck.

Background, as Gladwell describes, is a crucial factor in determining one’s success, such as family, wealth, culture, generation, and experience. Of course, while individuals have to work for prosperity, some factors of background allow an individual to reach success without having to work as hard as others, given their situations. The case in which Gladwell presents of a father and son exemplifies the outstanding difference in success based on the difference in birth year. Maurice and Mort Janklow were both equally hard-working individuals, but while the former could not “escape the limitations of their generation”, the latter would sell his business for “tens of millions of dollars” (Gladwell 138), demonstrating the harsh truth that one’s birth year stands on the same level of importance as one’s talent and determination. Moreover, the importance of family background was proved crucial in an extensive experiment conducted by psychologist Lewis Terman. When a group of highly intelligent individuals grew up, the only dividing factor of success was one thing: family background (Gladwell 111). All subjects were students who were full of amazing potential, yet ultimately nothing mattered more than the income of their parents. And though unfortunate, such circumstances are present everywhere today; the Kardashian-Jenner family, for example, stands as one of the most prominent and richest families in the U.S., with each relative member earning millions a year. Considering Kendall Jenner, it is debatable whether she would have reached eighty-three million followers on Instagram as a model and stand as a famous social media star if it were not for her family background and wealth. Gladwell’s reasoning that one’s background builds their identity, in the long run, stands true. And unfortunately, if hard work alone could determine one’s success, millions in poverty would not live hopelessly on the streets as they do today.

While everything previously stated is true, Gladwell fails to emphasize the crucial role of luck. Luck, according to Google, is “[the] success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one’s own actions”, and it is luck that determines the fine line between success among individuals. Upon Gladwell’s 10,000 rule, one has to have been born on a specific date in order to have maximized their total hour amount of practicing (Gladwell 39)- whether it be a sport or instrument- which builds a path for hard workers to take advantage of their early birth and thereby have time to make their practice perfect. However, a baby does not simply “pop” out when they desire - it is through chance, precise timing of the parents, and luck that determines one’ birthday. Thus, birth dates equate to coincidences, which translates to luck, which in turn means success- or no success. Moreover, if one asked to think of a billionaire, the first thought would probably be “Bill Gates!”. While everyone is aware of his genius, it is imperative to realize how his “genius” started. Gladwell credits Gates’ success to opportunity, as “opportunity number one was that Gates got sent to Lakeside... The university


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