Book Comparison: Outliers vs Rebounders
The Premise of Both Books
There is a simple idea that success leaves clues, so by studying and learning from successful individuals you can gain understanding about the common factors that contribute to success. Both Rebounders and Outliers have that central premise.
They both tell stories about successful individuals in order to identify and highlight factors that significantly contributed to their success.
It also helps that the stories are quite interesting, and there are indeed clues that you can take and apply to your own passion or definite goals.
The Differences of Focus
Let’s start off with simple definitions of the focuses of each book.
- Outliers: This book focuses most of its attention on external factors of success. For example where you were born, when you were born, familial culture, socioeconomic background, and your unique opportunities to practice your skill set.
- Rebounders: This book focuses most of its attention on internal factors of success. For example learning from failure, knowing when to persevere and when to change course, analyzing what could go wrong in order to prepare, and knowing your own strengths and weaknesses.
You can see the clear difference, can’t you? The question is which factors matter more?
When I read Outliers, I perceived the argument that it was external factors. The argument can be seen in the presentation of many of the stories, but I think the one of the best examples is in the prologue.
In that story, an isolated village is highlighted. It’s a village that has been cut off from the rest of society, and only recently has it been discovered that most of the village’s inhabitants have incredible health in some key areas.
Gladwell isolates and eliminates all factors that could be considered internal like exercise, eating, and other behavior habits. In the end, all that is left is the general well-being that has come from being in a close knit community.
In that case, the factor of success highlighted was: Where you live.
In Rebounders, the balance of the scale is tipped all the way in the other direction. It's possible to see some external factors in the stories, but the focus is entirely on the internal.
One of the stories in the book focuses on Lucinda Williams, who dedicated her life to music at an early age. She was single-minded in her focus, but success didn't come easily or quickly for that matter. Failure after failure piled up, but she kept trudging onward.
In the end, it took her 20 years to reach a significant amount of success. That level of perseverance is truly incredible.
- Aiming To Be in a Constant State of Evolution
It is said that if you aren't moving towards your goals, you're moving away from them. So why not commit yourself to pursuing a constant state of evolution. (My frequently updated book list)
The 10,000 Hour Rule of Mastery
The 10,000 hour rule was popularized by Gladwell in Outliers. I've often seen it referenced in many different places, and it's often referenced in Rebounders as well.
How this rule is presented in both books is different.
Outliers chose to focus on how specific individuals attained those 10,000 hours, with a specific focus on how unique those opportunities were. On the other hand, Rebounders highlights instances where 10,000 hours of practice wasn't enough to tip the balance towards achieving success.
When I first read Outliers, I had a small issue with the amount of emphasis that was placed on external factors of success, and I still do.
Ultimately though, it isn't a zero sum game. Both books are great, and I learned a lot from both of them. There are lessons to be learned in all of the stories.
Anyway, what do you think about this? Have you read these books, and what do you think about what they chose to focus on?