Monday, April 20, 2009

April 20th, 2009

Not wanting to overdo two points I keep hammering on, but …

You can thank my daughter, Caroline, and her husband, Sean, for this. At they Christmas gave me a copy Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, whose other books include The Tipping Point and Blink, and said, “You have to have to read this!” I’m usually jumping between three books at any one time, and over the past weekend Outliers finally entered by cycle. Gladwell’s purpose in writing the book is to bring an understanding of success that is outside of the box – especially the box that we’re so used to here in the U.S.

No long entry here, but have to report in on what it’s revealed thus far.

Point #1.

Gladwell opens with a story of an Italian village, Roseto Valfortore, whose inhabitants have surprisingly low rates (almost non-existent) of heart disease. Not only that, those who immigrated from that town to the U.S. and established their own little community in eastern Pennsylvania, reflected the same phenomena.

This led to investigative research – with hopes of uncovering what exactly was going on through the generations. Was it diet, quality of air, amount of exercise, genetics? Alas, the research showed that it wasn’t their diet (they eat meat, fat, etc.). It wasn’t that they are non-smokers (they’re not). It wasn’t that don’t imbibe in achohol (they do). It wasn’t that they have the best 24-Hour Fitness-like facility (they don’t), and it wasn’t their genes (no better than anyone else’s), nor the climate (other towns nearby were comparatively off the charts). The answer was … It was the people of Roseto themselves.

The researchers “looked at how the Rosetans visited one another, stopping to chat in Italian on the street, say, or cooking for one another in their backyards. They learned about the extended family clans that underlay the town’s social structure. The saw how many homes had three generations living under one roof, and ho much respect grandparents commended. – They counted twenty-two separate civic organization in a town of just under two thousand people. They picked up on the particular egalitarian ethos of the community, which discouraged the wealthy from flaunting their success and helped the unsuccessful obscure the failures.”

The research found, in short, that the reason for long life and good health in Roseto pointed in one direction – community.

I am struck by this and how much it mirrors the work of Richard Carlson and Joseph Bailey in their Slowing Down to the Speed of Life.

Point #2

Chapter Two of Gladwell’s work is “The 10,000-Hour Rule”. Here he discusses the profound fact that research shows a major determining factor in high rate of performance in any field is … PRACTICE. Whether it’s soccer, ice hockey, being a violinist, chess, computer programming – those people whose environments supported their putting in the time rose to the top. Not necessarily because they were any better … but because they practiced, practiced, practiced more than anyone else. No matter what … the thing that separates the poor from the mediocre performers is PRACTICE. What separate mediocre performers from good ones is PRACTICE. What separates the good from the great is PRACTICE. Over and over the research shows that at about 10,000 hours of practice a human being enters the realm of mastery.

In short. The truly great performers at anything are those who practice.

I am struck by this and how much it mirrors the work of George Leonard in his Mastery and by Miyamoto Musashi in his Book of Five Rings.

Get the book, Outliers. It’s a good read. You’ll enjoy. But don’t just read. Do something!!!

More later. But right now I have to slow down. This evening I’ll return to the mindful community that I’ve been part of for the past ten years and with them I’ll continue my practice!!

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