The Essence of Success & Talent Synthesis Essay The Thesis: Befriending Theory

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The Essence of Success & Talent Synthesis Essay

The Thesis: Befriending Theory

  • Through continuous practice and expertise, talent can be brought out as an innate disposition. People may not be initially born with it but instead are born with the advantages necessary to improve and lead to success. By juxtaposing expertise to talent, success can be conveyed as the crossing of natural ability and practice.

Noting the Trends of the Killer Thesis

  • Talent is an innate disposition that must be brought out through endless hours of practice and eventual mastery, ultimately leading to success. The meaning of success has been changed by our society and upbringings to mean “how much money you make,” when in reality success is personal; there is no one way to define it.

Synthesis Thesis: Only Room For the Essential

  • The story of success is simple: it all whittles down to the sole concept of opportunity and chance.  Success begins with one particular aspect that you have no control over. This trait puts you ahead from the beginning and sets you up for the rest of your life. As demonstrated in various texts the idea of “success” boils down to four simple ideas: your age, the amount of practice you receive, innate talent and your intelligence or talent threshold.

The Thesis: Theory & Simplicity

  • Success is largely reliant on opportunity, practice, and in the sense of good fortune, chance. This is not to say that hard work does not play an integral role in success, rather, it has become clear that one cannot achieve success solely through the common “work hard and you can do anything” mentality: one must be given the opportunity to take advantage of conditions that may exist simply by chance. It is also just as clear that the concepts of the “prodigy” and “genius” are really rather moot when it comes to determining future success.

The Organic Structure of Synthesizing

  • In our society today we have created the myth that we can pick out the innately talented from a young age and know who is going to be successful in the future and who isn’t. The truth is, we can’t tell, we have no way of knowing or choosing the right kids for success because too many people haven’t grasped the idea that IQ or intelligence doesn’t equal success. In order for someone to be “successful” they need to be able to know what they have to do, with what they were given. In Outliers Gladwell talks of a man who selected the brightest of the brightest students in California, he chose these people as the ones who would be the “future elite of the United States,” he felt that high IQ meant guaranteed success. There’s no doubt they were extremely gifted, but they didn’t end up being the most elite, “he fell in love with the fact that his Termites were at the absolute pinnacle of the intellectual state, without realizing how little that seemingly extraordinary fact meant.” …


  • These “Termites,” did end up being successful, but not the extent or degree in which the man, Terman, had envisioned or hoped. Having an IQ that is extremely high is nice and dandy, but having the creativity and ability to do something incredible or our of the ordinary, is what will make you the most successful. The theory that a child prodigy will grow up to be extremely successful in that “special” area is a myth, in Eric Wargo’s “The Myth of Prodigy and Why it Matters,” he supports that claim. When Gladwell was a kid “he was a champion runner, the number-one Canadian runner of his age. He then endured setbacks and lost interest in running and became a simply okay runner. In return, a kid who wasn’t supposed to be any good and have success with running, became a nationally ranked runner and “the number-one miler at age 24.” This shows that you can’t prematurely choose who will be successful and who won’t at something, only time is able to tell. The idea that you can tell whether or not someone is “right for the job,” before they have the job and have shown you they are right for the job, is proven false by quarterbacks in the NFL. The process of picking the right person for the job is shown in “Most Likely to Succeed,” by Malcolm Gladwell. Finding the right quarterback for your NFL team is extremely hard to do, this is shown and explained by a football scout named Dan Shonka. A quarterback who is extremely good during college, most of the time isn’t very good in the NFL, this is because college football is nowhere near as difficult and the challenges a quarterback faces in the NFL just aren’t parallel. This supports the question, “how do we hire when we can’t tell who’s right for the job?” It’s simple, you try one person at the job and if that is unsuccessful you try someone else and you just keep hoping for the best. Indeed innate talent is a reality, but whether or not someone has the will or the right characteristics to master that talent, is what must be looked at to determine their chances of “success.”

1st Premise =

  • It is not only practice that makes a genius though, it is also the quality of that practice that will truly make him a success.  Gladwell addresses this in his novel in the section about Bill Joy, the programming genius.  Yes, it is important that Joy had the opportunity to practice, but it is also important that he utilized that practice in a way that would give him the most success.  Joy was “programming eight or ten hours a day,” a massive feat for anyone, but the key word here was “programming.”  Anyone could’ve spent hours in the computer, but Joy used it to program, not to goof around but to spend quality practice time.  There’s a major difference between spending hours on the computer playing games and spending hours programming, and that is in part the reason Joy was so successful.  Wargo also addresses this in his article, by saying that many famous geniuses had the traits of “curiosity, doggedness, determinedness.”  Doggedness is the most important of all these traits, because it alludes to the fact that these “geniuses” were persistent in developing their skills, and thus spent quality time at it.  Stager also refers to this in his article “Should American Education be Super Sized?”  It makes no sense that American test scores are lower than those in Finland , when American students spend more time in school.  But Stager says it does, because “the quality of time spent by students and teachers in and out of the classroom can make a difference.”  Basically this means that American students aren’t getting quality education in and out of the classroom, that the education they are getting is thus, mediocre.  Unfortunately people think the solution to this is by establishing longer school hours, but the fact is that the amount of time doesn’t matter if that time isn’t spent well.  Practice makes perfect, just like Gladwell’s example of the Beatles in Hamburg , but they practiced well, making sure their audience enjoyed their music and that made all the difference.  They did spend a lot of time, but that time was spent well.

Strong 1st premise, weave in sources, proof

  • Many Americans believe that if you work hard, you'll achieve success. In "Should American Education Be Super Sized?", by Gary Stager, this theory is supported. By lengthening the school day, students will be more and more exposed to the learning environment and, therefore, become smarter. Because we're "well behind Asian territories and countries such as Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan" in math proficiency scores, President Barack Obama believes that for U.S. students to achieve much higher scores, we must "[set] higher standards, [increase] teacher recruitment and training, and [lengthen] the amount of time students spend in school". The logos behind this idea is: Children in Asian countries spend longer amounts of time in school. Asian children frequently have the highest proficiency scores. To get U.S. students to have higher scores as well, they must spend a longer amount of time in school. "The Myth of Prodigy and Why it Matters", by Eric Wargo, also shares the idea of working hard for success. Wargo explores the myth of child prodigies: "[to create] future world-class athletes meant recognizing and nurturing youthful talent". Children that attend "New York City's prestigious Hunter College Elementary School, which only admits children with an IQ of 155 or above", seemed to just turn out to be "simply okay" as adults. The school was designed to nurture the needs of child prodigies, but ended up producing seemingly average adults: "There are suprising numbers of people who either start good and go bad or start bad and end up good". These children were not prodigies, rather smart children that were given great opportunities to expand and practice their intelligence. Practicing is also a good way to achieve success, according to Wargo: "When we say that someone is 'naturally gifted' is that they practice a lot, that they want to practice a lot, that they like to practice a lot".  By using the example of Mozart, you could say that "Mozart's famous precociousness as a musician was not innate musical ability but rather his ability to work hard, and circumstances (i.e.. his father) that pushed him to do so", therefore there is no such thing as a prodigy, just kids that work hard. …

Umbrella Concept Continued

  • "Outliers", by Malcolm Gladwell explores circumstances leading to success. He has a  theory that age and success are correlated concerning education and sports: because of the cutoff dates, the older kids are more prone to success because they are more mature than the younger ones. For example, with Canadian hockey teams, the more talent you show, the better your chances are to be picked for the advanced team as a child. The advanced teams practice more and play more games, therefore bettering your talents. It's not that the older kids are better than the younger kids, its just that they have a small advantage from the beginning because they are more mature, leading to a better experience and more practice, which makes them better and more successful. The same goes for education: the older kids in the class are more likely to be the smarter ones because they are more mature and can understand better than the younger kids. Another reason for success according to Gladwell is the "ten-thousand hours" rule: "Even Mozart - the greatest musical prodigy of all time - couldn't hit his stride until he had his ten thousand hours in". Ten thousand hours is a lot, but its the determination and drive that get you there. Gladwell's theory behind Bill Joy's success is that "before he could become an expert, someone had to give him the opportunity to learn how to be an expert". Nobody forced him to take these opportunities, he took the initiative to take them. That's his determination and drive, which led him to get his ten thousand hours of practice him, ultimately leading to his success. Gladwell also explains that Nobel Prize winners are not prodigies, just people "smart enough to get into a college at least as good as Notre Dame or the Univerisity of Illinois. That's all". In a list provided of colleges that the prize winners attended, Harvard is indeed on the list, but so are colleges like Holy Cross and Hope College - colleges that not many have heard of. This is considered the "intelligence threshold", according to Gladwell: the theory that you only have to be smart enough to be successful. Lastly, in an episode of "Modern Family" entitled 'En Garde', being a prodigy is explored. The character Manny is found to be good at fencing, something his mother believes is an innate talent he possesses because his father was a swordsman. But, this may not be an innate talent, just something he was pre-disposed to and practiced. Another character, Luke, and his father begin to try to find something Luke may be successful at. By using the ten thousand hours rule, the father believes that after practicing baseball for ten thousand hours, he'll be good at it. By the end, he finally makes a pitch that his father can catch, proving that practices does in fact, make perfect.

Umbrella & Weave

  • But even opportunity and being a “prodigy” does not guarantee success. Eric Wargo, while discussing Gladwell, agrees that success is like “the story of two buildings.” One may be “built” ahead of schedule, but the building that comes in later may be just as good- so why make such a distinction between the two? Gladwell says of himself, “ I was a running prodigy” as a child, but recognizes that due to a lack of continued dedication, he became “simply okay.” Consequently, it must be that hard work and practice have to follow opportunity in order for one to achieve continued success. In his New Yorker essay, Gladwell asserts that trying to determine which college football stars will make good professional players is futile. His argument, echoed in Outliers, is that while one may be great at one thing, success with another- even closely related- activity is not certain. For example, Dan Shonka says of a group of five college quarterbacks, “each looked as promising as Chase Daniel did now… but only one of them… ended up fulfilling that promise.” Shonka attributes this to the fact that “the athletic ability that they’re playing against in the league is unbelievable,” as opposed to the slower and slightly easier college game. In Outliers, Gladwell uses Hunter College Elementary to establish that having the highest IQ or being the most academically successful doesn’t necessarily lead to further success. He is sure to mention, quite simply, that “there were no [Hunter alums] who were nationally known in their fields,” which suggests that these once-brilliant students did not pursue further knowledge, did not “practice” sufficiently, or were not given the same opportunities as those who did become successful.

Sample Synthesis Body Paragraph

  • The society into which a person is placed can have a huge affect on a person’s attainment of success. This society can motivate a person to succeed and construct an environment that can form them for achievement. In Outliers, Gladwell demonstrates this in the study of the community of Roseto, proving that “the people we surround ourselves with have a profound effect on who we are.” (11) The society interacted so positively with each other that the people lived healthy lives, therefore increasing their chances for success. If the village had been a place of discontentment and bitterness, the people would have been less healthy—both emotionally and physically—and less likely to achieve success in their futures. Another occurrence is in Modern Family. Manny’s achievement was motivated by his mother’s energizing focus on his previous successes (OVER) …

Synthesis Essay: Continued

  • … His stepfather’s pride in making t-shirts for the family boosted Manny’s confidence and helped him to fight for a win. Without this positive atmosphere, Manny’s confidence would have been minute and his chances for success would be slimmer. The same is in the classrooms of the children of this country. In “Most Likely to Succeed,” also by Gladwell, one of the problems stated with our education system is the lack of attention given to a student by a teacher while within the classroom. In order to have a better student “effective teachers [must] have a gift for noticing…” (1) When a student—no matter the subject of which he is learning—is given efficient attention, his learning increases, leading him to a greater success rate. The amount of attention a student receives is dependent on the society in which a child is placed. This need for attention can only be met if the student is in a society that is supportive and striving towards achievement.

One More … Synthesis Body Paragraph

  • Students from higher income families are often given more opportunities to achieve success than their lacking counterparts. In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell uses Bill Gates’ renowned success to exemplify the role socioeconomics plays in lifetime achievement. According to Gladwell, Gates had an early advantage because of his father’s status as a “wealthy lawyer” and his maternal grandfather’s success as a “well-to-do banker.” These good fortunes gave young Gates the economic ability to transfer to a “private school that catered to Seattle’s elite families” when he became bored in public school. Without the opportunity to transfer schools, Gates would not have had the early exposure to computers that a Lakeside education provided him. Gladwell also speculates that practice time greatly influences success (OVER) …

Stand Back … More Synthesis

  • However, students from higher income backgrounds have more opportunities to practice, which by Gladwell’s logic makes them more apt to succeed in life. Bill Gates, for example, “got to do real-time programming as an eighth-grader in 1968” because of the opportunities presented to him at his elite school. The Lakeside students did not have to worry about the costs of their computer time because their wealthy parents “raised more money” as needed. The opportunities bestowed upon Gates as a child and adolescent were more often than not the result of his high income environment. His endless hours of programming practice would not have been achievable if he had not been given the chance to enroll at a prestigious school and been provided with almost infinite funds to pursue his interest in computers. The key to success- practice- is dependent on the presentation of socioeconomic opportunities.

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