Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Outliers and Cosmo

First of all...if you are in the mood for a really good book about life and business...check out Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. In Outliers, Gladwell examines the factors that contribute to high levels of success in all walks of life. Great life lesson stuff that can help improve the quality of life and work.

The first story of success is "The Roseto Mystery"

Roseto is a city near Pennsylvania, USA. Stewart Wolf was a physician. Different with other places in the US, he rarely finds anyone from Roseto under the age of sixty-five with heart disease. Heart attacks were an epidemic in the US. They were the leading cause of death in men under the age of sixty-five. It was impossible to be a doctor, common sense said, and not see heart disease. Wolf decided to investigate. With support of his students and colleagues, they gathered the death certificates from residents of town, going back as many years as they could. They analyzed physician’s records, took medical histories and constructed family genealogies. The result is astonishing. In Roseto, virtually none under fifty-five had died of a heart attack or showed any signs of heart disease. For men under sixty-five, the death rate from heart disease in Roseto was roughly half that of the US as a whole. There was no suicide, no alcoholism, no drug addiction, and very little crime. The Rosetans didn’t do diet and exercises and has no relation with genetics. Roseto was an outlier.

Always met with another dead end, Wolf began to realize was that the secret of Roseto wasn’t diet or exercises, or genes or location. It had to be Roseto itself. As Wolf and his colleague walk around the town, they figured out why. They looked at how the Rosetans visited one another, stopping to chat on the street, say, or cooking for one another in their backyards. They learned about the extended family clans that underlay the town’s social structure. They saw how many homes had three generations living under one roof, and how much respects grandparents commanded. They went to mass at church and saw the unifying and calming effect of it. They counted twenty-two separate civic organizations in a town or just under 2000 people. They picked up on the particular egalitarian ethos of the community, which discouraged the wealthy from flaunting their success and helped the unsuccessful obscure their failures. The Rosetans had created a powerful, protective social structure capable of insulating them from the pressures of the modern world. In the medical world, none was used to thinking about health in terms of community.

I couldn't help but think of my Dad after I read this. He had an uncanny ability to bring a smile to anyone's face who he encountered. He was one of the most unselfish, giving people I have ever met in my life. My dad lived the life that Gladwell discribed...my Dad lived the life of a Rosetan. At my father's visitation a little old lady walked up to me and told a story about how my father befriended her son when he was young(who had lost his own father). This little boy would come out to the baseball fields to watch the team my dad coached. He loved baseball. It turns out that my dad made this little boy the team manager and bought him his first glove. Many years later in life, this boy had become a highly successful member of the armed forces and was talking to his mom about the most influential people in his life and the number one name at the top of his list was my father.

If you ever met my dad...consider yourself blessed. If you haven't...read the book. Actually...either way...read the book.

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