If you believe that Gladwell’s success is primarily driven by his writing, I think you’ve overlooked the most important factor. What makes him most interesting is not the narratives themselves, but rather the ideas behind them.
It grieves me to think of what Ryland’s parents may be robbing her of by choosing a gender for her at such a young age. I hope that, if/when she decides that she is a woman, that they will support her in this. That they won’t force her into their agenda to save face. I am writing this to offer another perspective. Because I believe in freedom. I believe that people should be free to have interests that don’t fit the social norm. That children should be allowed to be children. With all of their silly, fantastical play. They should be allowed to believe that they are a dog, a Superhero, a Mommy, or a rock.
I’m a reader. Period. I always have 3 – 5 books going at a time. Everything from sermon prep, leadership, parenting, marriage, church history, spirituality, novels and anything else I’m interested in. I learned a long time ago that leaders are readers, they should read a wide variety of topics and they should read from people they agree and disagree with.
In case you are curious, and you are because you are still reading, here are my top 10 favorite books of 2009 (my favorite at the top):
Leading on Empty (Wayne Cordeiro). This is a book is a must read every leader, every board member, pastor, spouse of a pastor or leader needs to read. Too many leaders are burning out and not finishing well. This book really caused Katie and I to evaluate our pace, health and how we can sustain ourselves to make it the long haul in ministry.
Water from a Deep Well (Gerald Sittser). Much like Miller’s book, this one grabbed me. I had to read this for school and honestly was not excited by it. It was easily the best book I read for that class.
Primal (Mark Batterson). I’ve always liked what Mark Batterson writes. Ever since I met him back in 2004, he has challenged me as a leader and in my own spiritual journey. Mark breaks down the great commandment, how that applies to our lives and how it might be the key to not only having a more fulfilling relationship with God but also the best way to reach our culture.
Surprised by Hope (N.T. Wright). This is a great look at what the beliefs have been about heaven, hell and the afterlife throughout church history; comparing that with what people believe now and how the church should respond and how that affects our mission.
Outliers (Malcolm Gladwell). I don’t read Gladwell to make a lot of changes in my leadership, although that happens. He is the type of author read to learn something interesting. This book does not disappoint. It is a fascinating look at success and what it does and does not take to be successful.
Money, Possessions & Eternity (Randy Alcorn). This book messed with my mind in the area of money and stuff. I read it for our series How to be Rich and it is by far the most thorough book on the subject. I was convicted on just about every page.
The book looks at how people are successful. The idea in our world is that success comes from hard work, being smarter than the other guy. But what Gladwell points out is that is not the end of the story. Sometimes, you can be those things and not be successful.
Gladwell looks at how to know whether your child will be a star hockey or soccer player based on what month they are born in. What the Beatls and Bill Gates have in common. Why Asians are so good at math. Why star New York lawyers have the same resume.
Outliers are those who have been given opportunities – and who have had the strength and presence of mind to seize them. For hockey and soccer players born in January, it’s a better shot at making the all-star team. For the Beatles, it was Hamburg. For Bill Gates, the lucky break was being born at the right time and getting the gift of a computer terminal in junior high. Joe Flom and the founders of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen and Katz got multiple breaks. They were born at the right time with the right parents and the right ethnicity, which allowed them to practice takeover law for twenty years before the rest of the legal world caught on.
This really was a fascinating read on why people are successful and why others are not. All successful people are not the same, sometimes you have to be born at the right time, in the right place, to the right family. But then, you have to do something with it.