Is it Karma or Dharma? — about Outliers

Recently I finished Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell’s newest book, which opened my mind to the balance between karma and dharma, when it comes to great achievement in life.

We assume that the most successful people are those who are both a) extremely brilliant and talented and b) who work their ass off (dharma). But Gladwell’s book more or less proves that there is another factor that is just as large, if not larger — being in the right place at the right time!

For instance, Bill Gates is super intelligent, and he put in way over 10,000 hours of computing before he even went to college, but if he had not been born in 1955 and gone to one of the only middle schools in the world at the time that had the luxury of unlimited free computer time, he would not have had the chances he worked so hard — staying up all night as a teenager — to take advantage of.

There are many other examples in the book that demonstrate how when and where someone was born and raised makes all the difference. Being really smart and prepared — 10,000 hours is what Gladwell posits it takes to master any skill — is only half the battle. Yes, you have to be prepared, but you also have to “get lucky.” You need to be in the right place at the right time, so that you are prepared for your outsized opportunities, and then you have to make the right moves at the right time.

Unfortunately, you can’t change your current karma, because it is based on choices you made in the past. You have to play the hand you are dealt. But you can make better choices going forward and improve your lot in the future (divination can help). What do you think? And are you putting in your 10,000 hours?