Moreover, I was blessed to have the opportunity to address a men’s ministry group earlier this year on the subject of influence. I summarized some of my thoughts in two earlier blogs. So it seems appropriate to reach back and capture my reflections on this topic from a few years back. I hope it bears some fruit for you for the coming year. So here goes…
In the work world, a treasured role is to be a person of influence. Whether or not you agree with all of his conclusions from his research, bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell is a person of extraordinary influence. And he’s an exceptional writer.
Gladwell, for those not familiar, is the author of bestselling books titled Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers, What the Dog Saw, and David and Goliath.
I got connected to Gladwell’s writing at a strategy workshop put on by a former employer. In one of our small group breakouts, we all received a copy of Tipping Point. Each of us in the group was asked to read a different chapter of the book. Then we were to report our summary discoveries from that chapter. I found it to be a great exercise.
It was there I learned how Hush Puppies (the shoes, not the food) regained popularity after almost going out of business. And how markets are developed and shaped in surprising ways. It happens when a significant group of influencers begin purchasing products or services and others soon follow the leaders, so to speak.
From Gladwell’s book, Blink, I learned about thin slicing, and John Gottman—the psychologist and mathematician. Gottman’s seminal work studying more than 2000 married couples has provided us with powerful perspectives on relationships. Through scientific observation and mathematical analysis, Gottman and his associates at the University of Washington could predict—with more than 90 percent accuracy—whether a marriage would succeed or fail.
Gottman defined “four horsemen” that drive relationships apart: defensiveness, stonewalling, criticism, and contempt. The most dangerous of those is contempt. By helping couples to see the damage these relational breakers were causing, Gottman significantly enhanced his skill as a marriage therapist.
In Outliers, Gladwell’s research gave us understanding that success is not accidental or by “luck.” Although many of the world’s most successful were talented, it took them hours and hours of work and practice to yield that success. Gladwell’s benchmark was 10,000 hours of commitment and hard work.
I have not read a later book by Gladwell titled David and Goliath. It is a book about “Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants.” I learned that while writing this book, Malcolm Gladwell returned to his spiritual roots and regained his faith.
As he notes, he grew up in an evangelical home. But he admitted, “I had drifted away a little bit. This book has brought me back into the fold. I was so incredibly struck in writing these stories by the incredible power faith had in people’s lives, it has made a profound impact on me in my belief.”
Gladwell’s contributions to the world of business have made him an extraordinary influencer. Each of his works are well worth reading. Perhaps Gladwell would agree with this idea: True wisdom and incredible insight into life can be found in another bestselling book: The Bible.
And it won’t even take you 10,000 hours to learn its most valuable lessons.
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