DaRayl Davis-Outliers: The Story of Success

Author of Book: Malcolm Gladwell
Date Read: November 13, 2023

Book Report

What prompted me to choose this book?

I was originally introduced to “Outliers” during the 2010 to 2012 timeframe as a member of the Empire Group – A mastermind led by #1 New York Times Bestselling Author Brendon Burchard. “Outliers” was part of our suggested reading material as I recall. Since coming to federal prison, I have developed a strong desire to recalibrate my understanding of success and I have decided to pursue the best possible outcome from my prison experience. This desire is what prompted me to read “Outliers” again. I continually seek out new sources of inspiration, even from familiar resources. In the case of re-reading “Outliers”, I think of it as reading the book again for the first time since I am a changed man. My outlook and perspective have shifted since my initial reading. I have also come to be very fond of Malcolm Gladwell as an author and story teller. I am consistently captivated by the intriguing insights and counter-intuitive concepts he shares through his works. As I actively prepare myself for success after prison, I believe “Outliers” offers an essential framework for the kind of success I aspire to attain.

What did I learn reading this book?

One of the foundational premises I learned reading “Outliers” is that extraordinary achievement is less about talent than it is about opportunity. I discovered that there are clearly patterns that shaped the success of many of the icons and titans of business, sports and entertainment that I have come to admire. I learned that while effort is important, essential even, individual merit is not the sole determining factor in achieving success. The book shares stories, instead, about people who were given a special opportunity to work really hard and seized it, and who happened to come of age at a time when that extraordinary effort was rewarded by the rest of society. Much of the history relayed in the book shows outliers in a particular field who achieved extraordinary levels of success through a combination of ability, opportunity, and utterly arbitrary advantage. The idea of working really, really hard to achieve mastery in a field or expert status is captured in “The 10,000 Hour Rule” that I learned reading the book. This rule is one of the most impactful takeaways that resonated with me profoundly. Excellence at performing a complex task requires a critical minimum level of practice. Researchers have suggested the magic number is 10,000 hours of disciplined application and execution in order to achieve greatness. So, although being innately talented or gifted is important in many fields, the closer psychologists look at the most accomplished individuals among us, the smaller the role innate talents seem to play and the bigger the role preparation seems to play.

How will reading this book contribute to my success upon release?

Reading “Outliers” again for the first time has brought me to the realization that extraordinary preparation is absolutely required in order to take best advantage of and maximize the unusual opportunities I hope to earn upon my release. This idea brings to mind a statement or maxim I have come to believe: Luck occurs when preparedness meets opportunity. I will face extraordinary challenges when I return to society as a justice-impacted person. Now is the time for me to prepare myself to competently and capably overcome these challenges. Having read “Outliers”, I now have a more complete picture of the path to success and I am better prepared to create my own unique portrait of success after prison.