Posted tagged ‘outliers’

‘Outliers’ by Malcolm Gladwell

February 25, 2010

        Right now I am reading ‘Outliers’ by Malcolm Gladwell.  I have long been fascinated by what makes successful people and institutions tick, and he seems to have some logic behind his analysis of the subject.

        He starts out with a discussion of a town with an unexpected low rates of disease. The people who live there have a much lower rate of heart disease, cancer, and early death than communities of similar size and demographics only a few hundred miles away.  He concluded it was the tight nature of the group.  They tended to be supportive of neighbors.  They worked hard but played music and had fun too.  They lived by loyalty and kindness.  Wow, sounds like the bluegrass crowd or the wordpress blog community huh?

        Some had to do with being in the right place at the right time.  If you want play professional hockey in Canada, make sure you are born in January.  The extra six months of maturity feeds the system’s perception of athletic superiority, and these kids got more attention, more play time, and thus more practice.  This gave them the opportunity to develop superior skills over time.

        I enjoyed his concept of ‘smart enough.’  In some professions one has to be smart to make it, but past a certain level raw IQ was not predictive of success.  (I was esp glad to read this!)  For a doc you have to be smart enough to read the books, but after that many factors such as empathy, compassion, kindness, tenacity, curiosity, and just plain love of people are more predictive.

        By worldly measures I guess I’ve had some success as a doctor.  I didn’t make as much money as most though it was more than enough.  I’ve aced a string of Board tests though I always fell short of absolute number one, which I guess borders on un-American to tell you. 

        But I sure did enjoy the privilege to take care of my people.  My number one rule was alway this:  The patient is the boss.  I tell mine all the time,  “If you aren’t happy about how things are going, come tell me and I’ll do what I can to fix it or find someone who can.  You are my boss; don’t ever forget it.”

        I guess it’s worked okay. Even though we’re all gonna die and I can’t change that, my people seem satisfied I’m gonna make every effort to keep ’em here as long as I can and with as little pain as possible.  As I told one the other day, “I know I’ve got a Heavenly Home but I ain’t homesick yet.”  (It was a quote from the preacher)

        Hm.  Maybe all that makes me some kind of ‘Outlier.’  I don’t know but I know this:  After a lifetime of being this way it is unlikely I’m gonna change now.  I don’t know how to be anything else.

        Y’all check out Mr. G’s book.  I think you’ll enjoy it.

Dr. B