Sunday, February 28, 2010

rice paddies

i was first introduced to malcolm gladwell through his second book, blink. after reading blink & buying into many of gladwell's theories & appreciating his ability to make me think outside the box i quickly gravitated to his first book, the tipping point, which also helped me expand my way of thinking about why things occur the way they do.

his third book, outliers, has by far been most favorite! chapter 7 specifically, which gladwell analyzes the correlation between plane crashes & ethnic origins. chapter 7 just knocked me off my feet! the fact that i began reading this chapter on the way to the airport & i literally finished the chapter as the plane was accelerating down the runway during takeoff (flight from denver to austin) really had my blood pumping!

communication, communication, communication!

chapter 7 of outliers described how the majority of plane crashes have nothing to do with blown engines, malfunctioning wings or landing systems, etc. the majority of plane crashes are caused by a series of small & connected communication errors between the pilots in the cockpit & the pilots in the cockpit with the folks in the air traffic control tower.

two examples that come to mind include: a S. korean co-pilot who wouldn’t speak up to his captain & tell the captain that they were heading straight into a mountain...the co-pilot wouldn’t speak up because at the time it wasn’t allowed for a co-pilot to question the captain. the second example had to do with a co-pilot & pilot not being straight forward with an air traffic controller at JFK airport...their plane was literally running on fumes & they were inevitably going to run out of fuel & crash if they didn’t land immediately; but instead of telling the air traffic controller that they needed to land immediately they simply agreed to circle the runway again because that is what the air traffic controller was telling all the planes coming into JFK at the time to do.

the overarching theme of the book though isn’t about communication & it is NOT about just being at the right place at the right time. being at the right place at the right time is a component of one’s success, but what IT really comes down to is HARD WORK & DEDICATION...think about the 10,000 hour rule! sure the opportunity has to present itself, but if you don’t jump all over that opportunity & give it your all it won’t add up to anything.

my favorite quote of the book comes from chapter 8, rice paddies & math tests. “no one who can rise before dawn 360 days a year fails to make his family rich.”

i highly recommend you check out outliers for a minimum read chapter 7; preferably not while on a plane.

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