Saturday, October 9, 2010

Forests

I'm currently reading Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. I loved his earlier book The Tipping Point and have been meaning to read this one, too. I found this excerpt to be really poignant and applicable to all of us parents of children with special needs - and really, to any parent. He wrote this to dispel the notion that success is achieved only by pulling oneself up by the bootstraps:

"People don't rise from nothing. We do owe something to parentage and patronage. The people who stand before kings may look like they did it all by themselves. But in fact they are invariably the beneficiaries of hidden advantages that allow them to learn and work hard and make sense of the world in ways others cannot. It makes a difference where and when we grew up. The culture we belong to and the legacies passed down by our forbears shape the patterns of our achievement in ways we cannot begin to imagine. It's not enough to ask what successful people are like, in other words. It is only by asking where they are from that we can unravel the logic behind who succeeds and who doesn't.

Biologists often talk about the 'ecology' of an organism: the tallest oak in the forest is the tallest not just because it grew from the hardiest acorn; it is the tallest also because no other trees blocked its sunlight, the soil around it was deep and rich, no rabbit chewed through its bark as a sapling, and no lumberjack cut it down before it matured. We all know that successful people come from hardy seeds. But do we know enough about the sunlight that warmed them, the soil in which they put down the roots, and the rabbits and lumberjacks they were lucky enough to avoid? This is not a book about tall trees. It's a book about forests...."

Would love to hear your thoughts about this.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

very cool and very true. I would love to hear more about this book as you read it :).

It's so true that we're shaped by our environment. It really plays a huge factor in the way our lives pan out.