Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Blogging Bank Shot

I saw a link to this blog on ol' Johnny Ness's virtual periodical defending journalist Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers. In it, Yglesias cites one of the leading points of detraction:

"I’ve seen a few people express the notion that Gladwell’s conclusion — that success is determined largely by luck rather than one’s powers of awesomeness — is somehow too banal to waste one’s time with."

This conclusion has apparently caused a flap. Now, I haven't read the book yet (haven't even opened the fucking front cover), but I'm certain I agree with Gladwell. And, of course, the notion that most "great" people simply happen upon their success is by no means banal. And I'm sure it's unsettling. To successful people. You see, successful individuals like to think that their hard work and personal worth somehow managed to get them where they are today. When, in reality, they are simply lucky. Lucky to have gone to certain schools, attended certain churches, met certain helpful others, and been present when certain cosmic machinations allowed them to step into whatever position of power they now hold. Don't talk to me about drive, ambition, intelligence, and elbow grease. None of that means shit when you don't have opportunity and opportunity comes down to luck. Sure, you can increase your luck by making yourself more available, but that's the end of the road for the human potential movement. For every Bill Gates, there are a thousand folks of equal intelligence, drive, and "worth" who currently work at Radio Shack wishing they were Bill Gates.

Just think about yourself for a moment. You. The reader. Can you do your boss's job? Chances are, you can. Just as well, if not better. The only thing that separates you is chance.


JCN said...

For the record, my complaint is with MG's self-marketing and analysis, not his thesis. And with Pat Benatar's song "Christmas in America," which is playing right now. I think it is the worst christmas song ever.

Gabe said...

I don't like his Sideshow Bob haircut either.