Find out the secrets to being someone who stands out, says Julia Tybura

Malcolm Gladwell always tells great stories and brings subjects to life. Each chapter in Outliers tells a story of a culture, organisation, village or other community - all of them “outliers” - something extraordinary. He tells of an Italian village where the people die of old age - and “that’s it”. Another chapter tells the story of the “Edison of the internet” and the 10,000 hour practice rule, where top programmers, hockey stars and pianists, for example, appear again and again in research, clearly demonstrating that so many hours are needed to become world class.

The concepts of doggedness and resilience are central and why I found it such a fascinating read, especially in these difficult times.

In one chapter he quotes research by a US maths professor on a number of people, including a nurse called Renee. She was working on a maths problem many people had walked away from within two minutes saying they couldn’t do it. But Renee showed true grit and after 22 minutes she worked out that it couldn’t be done because the answer was infinity. That was her light bulb moment.

It was her persistence in considering what was happening on the screen in front of her and not accepting it that interested the professor - and Gladwell. He suggests: “Put a bunch of Renees in a classroom, and give them the space and time to explore mathematics for themselves, and you could go a long way.”

Give healthcare workers time and space to explore wicked problems and see how they might be solved in a cost effective, productive way.

Julia Tybura is managing director of Zenon Consulting.

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