Malcolm Gladwell · 305 pages
Rating: (111.9K votes)
“Courage is not something that you already have that makes you brave when the tough times start. Courage is what you earn when you’ve been through the tough times and you discover they aren’t so tough after all.”
“Giants are not what we think they are. The same qualities that appear to give them strength are often the sources of great weakness.”
“As the playwright George Bernard Shaw once put it: “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
“...legitimacy is based on three things. First of all, the people who are asked to obey authority have to feel like they have a voice--that if they speak up, they will be heard. Second, the law has to be predictable. There has to be a reasonable expectation that the rules tomorrow are going to be roughly the same as the rules today. And third, the authority has to be fair. It can't treat one group differently from another.”
“It was not the privileged and the fortunate who took in the Jews in France. It was the marginal and damaged, which should remind us that there are real limits to what evil and misfortune can accomplish. If you take away the gift of reading, you create the gift of listening. If you bomb a city, you leave behind death and destruction. But you create a community of remote misses. If you take away a mother or a father, you cause suffering and despair. But one time in ten, out of that despair rises as indomitable force. You see the giant and the shepherd in the Valley of Elah and your eye is drawn to the man with sword and shield and the glittering armor. But so much of what is beautiful and valuable in the world comes from the shepherd, who has more strength and purpose than we ever imagine.”
“Any fool can spend money. But to earn it and save it and defer gratification—then you learn to value it differently.”
“You can’t concentrate on doing anything if you are thinking, “What’s gonna happen if it doesn’t go right?”
“We are all of us not merely liable to fear, we are also prone to be afraid of being afraid, and the conquering of fear produces exhilaration.…The contrast between the previous apprehension and the present relief and feeling of security promotes a self-confidence that is the very father and mother of courage.”
“There is a set of advantages that have to do with material resources, and there is a set that have to do with the absence of material resources- and the reason underdogs win as often as they do is that the latter is sometimes every bit the equal of the former.”
“We spend a lot of time thinking about the ways that prestige and resources and belonging to elite institutions make us better off. We don’t spend enough time thinking about the ways in which those kinds of material advantages limit our options.”
“The excessive use of force creates legitimacy problems, and force without legitimacy leads to defiance, not submission.”
“When people in authority want the rest of us to behave, it matters—first and foremost—how they behave.”
“What is learned out of necessity is inevitably more powerful than the learning that comes easily.”
“... they were not really afraid. They were just afraid of being afraid.”
“We have become obsessed with what is good about small classrooms and oblivious about what also can be good about large classes. It’s a strange thing isn't it, to have an educational philosophy that thinks of the other students in the classroom with your child as competitors for the attention of the teacher and not allies in the adventure of learning.”
“What the Israelites saw, from high on the ridge, was an intimidating giant. In reality, the very thing that gave the giant his size was also the source of his greatest weakness. There is an important lesson in that for battles with all kinds of giants. The powerful and the strong are not always what they seem.”
“Much of what we consider valuable in our world arises out of (these) one-sided conflicts. Because the act of facing overwhelming odds, produces greatness and beauty.”
“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
“The scholars who research happiness suggest that more money stops making people happier at a family income of around seventy-five thousand dollars a year. After that, what economists call “diminishing marginal returns” sets in. If your family makes seventy-five thousand and your neighbor makes a hundred thousand, that extra twenty-five thousand a year means that your neighbor can drive a nicer car and go out to eat slightly more often. But it doesn’t make your neighbor happier than you, or better equipped to do the thousands of small and large things that make for being a good parent.”
“For every remote miss who becomes stronger, there are countless near misses who are crushed by what they have been through. There are times and places, however, when all of us depend on people who have been hardened by their experiences.”
“But so much of what is beautiful and valuable in the world comes from the shepherd, who has more strength and purpose than we ever imagine.”
“When people in authority want the rest of us to behave, it matters—first and foremost—how they behave. This is called the “principle of legitimacy,” and legitimacy is based on three things. First of all, the people who are asked to obey authority have to feel like they have a voice—that if they speak up, they will be heard. Second, the law has to be predictable. There has to be a reasonable expectation that the rules tomorrow are going to be roughly the same as the rules today. And third, the authority has to be fair. It can’t treat one group differently from another. All good parents understand these three principles implicitly. If you want to stop little Johnnie from hitting his sister, you can’t look away one time and scream at him another. You can’t treat his sister differently when she hits him. And if he says he really didn’t hit his sister, you have to give him a chance to explain himself. How you punish is as important as the act of punishing itself.”
“those at the very top of the class—are going to face a burden that they would not face in a less competitive atmosphere. Citizens of happy countries have higher suicide rates than citizens of unhappy countries, because they look at the smiling faces around them and the contrast is too great. Students at “great” schools look at the brilliant students around them, and how do you think they feel? The phenomenon of relative deprivation applied to education is called—appropriately enough—the “Big Fish–Little Pond Effect.” The more elite an educational institution is, the worse students feel about their own academic abilities. Students who would be at the top of their class at a good school can easily fall to the bottom of a really good school. Students who would feel that they have mastered a subject at a good school can have the feeling that they are falling farther and farther behind in a really good school. And that feeling—as subjective and ridiculous and irrational”
“as it may be—matters. How you feel about your abilities—your academic “self-concept”—in the context of your classroom shapes your willingness to tackle challenges and finish difficult tasks. It’s a crucial element in your motivation and confidence.”
“innovators need to be disagreeable. By disagreeable, I don’t mean obnoxious or unpleasant. I mean that on that fifth dimension of the Big Five personality inventory, “agreeableness,” they tend to be on the far end of the continuum. They are people willing to take social risks—to do things that others might disapprove of.”
“Some pretend to be rich, yet have nothing; others pretend to be poor, yet have great wealth.”
“The contrast between the previous apprehension and the present relief and feeling of security promotes a self-confidence that is the very father and mother of courage.”
“capitalization learning”: we get good at something by building on the strengths that we are naturally given.”
“So why don’t Americans cheat? Because they think that their system is legitimate. People accept authority when they see that it treats everyone equally, when it is possible to speak up and be heard, and when there are rules in place that assure you that tomorrow you won’t be treated radically different from how you are treated today. Legitimacy is based on fairness, voice and predictability, and the U.S. government, as much as Americans like to grumble about it, does a pretty good job of meeting all three standards. Pg. 293”
“think, for example, has a higher suicide rate: countries whose citizens declare themselves to be very happy, such as Switzerland, Denmark, Iceland, the Netherlands, and Canada? or countries like Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain, whose citizens describe themselves as not very happy at all? Answer: the so-called happy countries. It’s the same phenomenon as in the Military Police and the Air Corps. If you are depressed in a place where most people are pretty unhappy, you compare yourself to those around you and you don’t feel all that bad. But can you imagine how difficult it must be to be depressed in a country where everyone else has a big smile on their face?2 Caroline Sacks’s decision to evaluate herself, then, by looking around her organic chemistry classroom was not some strange and irrational behavior. It is what human beings do. We compare ourselves to those in the same situation as ourselves, which means that students in an elite school—except, perhaps,”
“For Adam, screwed-up bonding thing or not, I’d wait forever.
“Really?” he asked in a tone I’d never heard from him before. Softer. Vulnerable. Adam didn’t do vulnerable.
“Really what?” I asked.
“Despite the way our bond scares you, despite the way someone in the pack played you, you’d still have me?”
He'd been listening to my thoughts. This time it didn't bother me.
“Adam,” I told him, “I’d walk barefoot over hot coals for you.”
“Even the human race can't claim to be natural anymore. We are fake, dying things. How fitting that I would end up in this sham of a marriage.”
“Whether or not the fame of Gilgamesh of Uruk had reached the Aegean – and the idea is attractive – there can be no doubt that it was as great as that of any other hero. In time his name became so much a household word that jokes and forgeries were fathered onto it, as in a popular fraud that survives on eighth-century B.C. tablets which perhaps themselves copy an older text. This is a letter supposed to be written by Gilgamesh to some other king, with commands that he should send improbable quantities of livestock and metals, along with gold and precious stones for an amulet for Enkidu, which would weigh no less that thirty pounds. The joke must have been well received, for it survives in four copies, all from Sultantepe.”
“But while everything around us seems to be in a constant state of flux- people at their very core remained exactly the same. All of us still seeking the things we've sought all along—shelter, food, love, greater meaning—" He shakes his head. "A quest that's immune to evolution.”
“He extended his hand: It seemed to meet something in mid-air, and he drew it back with a sharp exclamation. "I wish you'd keep your fingers out of my eye," said the aerial voice, in a tone of savage expostulation.”
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