The “Average of Five” Rule. Does It Work?

The "Average of Five" RuleYesterday, during the Binghamton University Convocation, I had the privilege of watching Arel Moodie, author and motivational speaker, give a speech to a few thousand incoming freshman on what it takes to be a successful student.

One of the concepts he discussed was “the average of 5”, a rule that states that you become the average of the five people you spend the most time with. For example, if you constantly hang out with negative people, you will ultimately find yourself becoming a negative person too. If you spend a lot of time with friends who all work hard to get high GPAs, you will find that you also work hard to keep your GPA within that range too (I’ve personally experienced this phenomenon).

However, as often as this rule holds true, there are many cases where it simply doesn’t. Continue Reading…

Evaluating Gladwell’s Outliers: Is Success Beyond Our Control?

“Cultural legacies are powerful forces. They have deep roots and long lives. They persist, generation after generation, virtually intact, even as the economic and social and demographic conditions that spawned them have vanished, and they play such a role in directing attitudes and behavior that we cannot make sense of our world without them.”
—Malcolm Gladwell

This is a quote taken from Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers, in which he gives case study after case study to demonstrate how very successful people arrive at that level. His conclusion is that individual merit alone is not what allows someone to be successful. Rather, a whole host of factors—including random luck, fortunate upbringing, and cultural legacy—all interplay with individual merit and hard work, propelling some people towards success and viciously holding others back. After reading through this book, I have to admit, he’s absolutely right.

The way you were brought up can have a gripping effect on how you perceive the world. And many people cannot break out of that perception. On top of this, the way things work for anything one might wish to participate in can be unfair to those who weren’t given a special advantage early in life. Gladwell explains: Continue Reading…