I just finished Malcolm Gladwell's book, Outliers. I always like reading Gladwell's books, but mainly as entertainment. It's that sort of smart writing that makes you feel like you're learning something important, even though the main purpose of the book is for entertainment.
Still, with any book I read I generally try to come up with some immediate actions I can implement from it to improve myself or my life. Outliers had a couple good ones that I'll share with you.
Small Scale Persistence is IMPORTANT
Gladwell talks about persistence, not in the long-term sense of persevering, but rather on every day small tasks.
Asian kids tend to be better at math for a lot of reasons, one of which is that because of their cultures they tend to persist in figuring out the answers. One study showed that Japanese kids would spend 40% more time trying to figure out a really difficult math problem than American kids would.
I'm going to cultivate the habit of persisting on small things. An example from my life is when I'm doing my Kanji flashcards I sometimes come across a hard one and just flip it, thinking "I'll just relearn it and try again". Instead I'm going to try spending more time trying to wrack my brain and figure them out.
This isn't necessarily being done because I think it will help me learn Kanji faster or better, although it might, but rather because the habit will serve me well next time I come across a difficult but solvable problem that I may otherwise give up on.
Time Spent Matters MOST
Most may be a strong word, because there are so very many factors to consider, but the book really drilled home how important time spent is. Gladwell goes through a ton of examples ranging from the Beatles to Bill Gates, showing that their success was basically due to opportunity and time spent.
I've found that most of my opportunities SPRING from spending time on something, so for me the lesson is to spend TONS of time on things that are meaningful to me and important.
An example from my life for that one is that right now I'm writing content for the new Life Nomadic site. I made a schedule for myself on when things needed to be done by and was going to stick to that.
Now I'm going to get at done as fast as possible and spend more time writing additional things, editing, or working on inevitable sub-projects that will spring up.
I'm even thinking about reevaluating waking up early and blocking off time to do projects. Two hours to study japanese, four to write for LN, etc.
There's a lot going on in the book, so it's very likely that you'll get different things out of it than I did. Check it out!