I recently finished Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book, Outliers, which takes a new look at what really makes people successful.
How did Bill Gates become a billionaire? Why are most pro hockey players born in January? What makes Asians so good at math? What made the Beatles the greatest rock band ever? These are the type of questions Malcolm Gladwell (author of The Tipping Point) answers in his new book The Outliers.
I just finished reading it. Fascinating stuff. It’s no secret that a sense of accomplishment (whether your goals are big or small) affects your physical health… so I wanted to talk about this “outlier phenomena” which allows people to achieve extraordinary results.
However, as Gladwell’s book explains, there is more to success than sheer persistence and hard work. Circumstance has more to do with it then we give it credit. I hope that doesn’t sound fatalistic. If circumstances aren’t right for you to meet your goals, you can work, first, towards changing your circumstances.
Why are Most Pro Hockey Players born in January?
Of course, some things are impossible to alter. As Gladwell explains, most pro hockey players were born in January. This allowed them more time to grow than other kids born later in the same year. In other words, when tryouts for little leagues come about, kids born in September are not as developed, physically, mentally and skillfully, than those born in January.
I was born two months later, in March. This certainly made me better prepared and more confident at the start of elementary school. In fact, my above-average grades afforded me enough grants and bursaries to cover all my university tuition.
Being free of debt by the time I graduated allowed me to pursue a more alternative route. I believe a lot of doctors stay in drug-based medicine because they need the higher salary to pay off their student loans.
I Was Given Two Choices: Nurse or Secretary
Gladwell also talks about the opportunities and disadvantages of the year or decade you were born in. I completed high school in 1966. My guidance counselor informed me that the only career options for a woman were secretarial or nursing. Neither interested me, so my present-day husband and I cashed in some of our university tuition and flew far away from the chilly coast of Nova Scotia to the sunny beaches of California.
As it is now, California was on the forefront of alternative health information. We ended up staying with people who had most of the early classics of natural health literature on their bookshelf. I eventually attended a health conference in L.A. where I met some of the pioneers of the alternative health movement, including Adele Davis, Paul Bragg, Emanuel Cheraskin, Dale Alexander and Jack LaLanne.
If I had a been born in a later era, more accepting to women doctors, I may have gone straight to medical school and skipped that first year of alternative health education in California.
10,000 Hours of Study
Gladwell, in Outliers, also says you need to spend about 10,000 hours studying your craft. I read so much about natural health in those 7 years before I entered medical school that I may have already hit 10,000 hours.
Being medically inclined, but still unaware I could be a doctor, I took biology and ecology in university. Finally, by my third year in Honors Biology I discovered that some of the younger male students were being accepted into medical school. I couldn’t believe it. I already knew more than them — and they were going to be doctors!
Right there and then I decided that was the path I was to take. I immediately applied at the office of the Dean of Medicine at Dalhousie University.
And Who Should I Discover
Working at the Dean’s Office…
…but the guidance counselor from high school who had told me I could only be a nurse or a secretary.
Next post, I’ll fill you in on what happened next. I’ll also reveal another “outlier” phenomena I discovered about my father. Plus, I’ll share with you how a coincidence over my birthday allowed me to return to California to study in the first acupuncture clinic associated with an American hospital at UCLA. If you haven’t subscribed for email updates yet, please do so in the form below. I’ll be sending “part 2” soon.
Carolyn Dean MD ND
The Doctor of the Future®
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