At the end of the day, it’s hard for me not to reach the conclusion that the backlash is, not coincidentally, coming just as Gladwell’s hit upon a politically charged topic and reached conclusions that are discomfiting to the very successful. I’ve seen a few people express the notion that Gladwell’s conclusion — that success is determined largely by luck rather than one’s powers of awesomeness — is somehow too banal to waste one’s time with. I think those people need to open their eyes and pay a bit more attention to the society we’re living in. It’s a society that not only seems to believe that the successful are entitled to unlimited monetary rewards for their trouble, but massive and wide-ranging deference.
Beyond that, it’s a society in which the old-fashioned concept of noblesse oblige has largely gone out the window. The elite feel not only a sense of entitlement, but also a unique sense of arrogance that only an elite that firmly believes itself to be a meritocracy can muster. Gladwell not only shows that this is wrong, but he does an excellent job of showing why it feels right. He explains that success does, in fact, require hard work — lots of it — and that people who think they got where they are through effort rather than good fortune are at least half right. The issue is that in some ways the best luck of all is the luck to be in a position to do hard work at a time when it pays off. Bill Gates, Gladwell explains, put in vast hours programming computers at a very young age at a time when almost nobody in the United States even had the opportunity to put in that kind of time in front of a computer screen.
The question is, do you believe that the United States is essentially a meritocracy whereby one's own skills and determination are all that is needed to rise up the socio-economic scale? Or do you believe that a great deal of our own lives is pre-determined by greater societal forces well beyond our control - where you were born; when you were born; the relative wealth of your parents and family; the stability of your home life as a child etc.
It's not that many of us believe that hard work is completely inconsequential its that we feel that there are greater forces at work besides ones own industriousness. The other factors are, arguably, far more determinative to your life than simple diligence.