Obama bad ... democracy good ... socialism bad ... capitalism good ... citizens screwed.
Okay, enough about politics this week. As Groucho once allegedly told a mother of 13 on You Bet Your Life, “Lady, I love cigars, but I take them out of my mouth once in a while.”
I just finished The Outliers, a book by Malcolm Gladwell. It was a fascinating read, even if he misused the information to promote socialism.
Gladwell researched why some people succeeded and others failed. His premise was that it wasn’t intelligence or effort as much as good timing, being born in the right era, and 10,000 hours of practice in a field that was in its infancy as the subject reached the prime age of 19 to 23. Even the right ethnicity could make or break one, depending on the culture. Two of his prime examples are Bill Gates and the Beatles.
The choices we make dictate the life that we lead
One individual can fight through most anything given the chance. What Gladwell got me thinking about are the defining moments of my life, including some warts:
• Born in the post-World War II growth economy to two parents who stayed together for life.
• Played sports every day ... baseball in summer, football in winter, sometimes seven days a week, dawn to dusk, 10,000-plus hours worth.
• At age 10, I went on stage to make an announcement. I froze in front of whole school. Refused to speak before any group for next 25 years.
• Went out for football in school of 6,000 under the best coach in Illinois high school history, Murney Lazier. I was smallest, slowest and one of the youngest as a freshman, but I had 10,000 hours of practice. Coach didn’t cut and I didn’t quit. Senior year I went from last to first string halfway through the season.
• Let a high school baseball coach convince me to quit.
• Poor grades in high school led to fear of continued failure in college. I achieved a “B” average.
• Jobs I held during school: Caddy, baseball ump, pizza delivery, mailman, liquor truck helper, clerk at liquor/grocery store, loading trucks outside in Chicago winters at night, hot dog restaurant worker, medical insurance accountant, Chicago Mercantile exchange runner in morning and CME bookkeeper in afternoon.
• After job as burglar alarm salesman and during job as an insurance agent, father-in-law offered me major opportunity in restaurant management with promise of ownership in his four eateries in St. Louis.
• After two years, the company offered me a franchise in small town in Missouri at age 25. I’m 60 and still going strong.
• Elected president of a restaurant advertising co-op during restroom break. Had to decide to defeat my speaking nightmares.
• Two weeks before my father Mel died, he told me he could have done so much more with his life.
• One year after father passed on, I began writing original quotes and jokes. After thousands of rejections, publications started to pick them up. I have written 40,000 original quotes and jokes.
• Became a radio talk show host four months ago and now have seven independent sponsors.
• Nearly went broke in 2001. I survived by getting help. Had tremendous recovery.
• Became a stand-up comic at age 55.
• Built a hotel ... sold it at a loss ten years later.
• Published a magazine ... shut it down.
• Back a professional golfer ... a work in progress.
• Bought a quarry and asphalt plant.
As Gladwell points out, if you acquire 10,000 hours of practice you become better than most, and opportunity coincidentally seems to break your way.
What he fails to analyze is the human spirit, the grit that prevents a soul from quitting under adversity.
I learned early that victories often occur when you see no way to succeed, but refuse to give up anyway.
I loved The Outliers, but I think Gladwell’s conclusions sell the human spirit short.
As Martin Luther King said, “We SHALL overcome.”
(Dave Weinbaum is a regular contributor of one-liners and commentaries to many regional and national publications and web sites, including the Reader's Digest, National Enquirer and Forbes and is a regular pundit for the www.jewishworldreview.com. Readers can reach Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org or his website, www.daveweinbaum.com. Listen to the Dave Weinbaum Radio Talk show on KTTR 99.7 FM and 1490 AM on Friday mornings starting at 9:05)