That being said, do you find that his narrative has redeeming qualities in and of themselves?
For example, in his most recent book - David and Goliath - he attempts to argue that dyslexia is not a completely debilitating disorder (a "David" to a "Goliath" of people capable of easily reading) based on characters such as David Boies - a prolific litigator and founder of biglaw firm, Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP - who is dyslexic and was still able to succeed in a rigorous work environment.
For me, I find inspiration in that fact that there are paths to success even for individuals with seemingly "debilitating" issues, and although there may be some holes in the science/research part of Gladwell's book, to me, he paints a portrait which can relate to many. What are your thoughts about this element of his writing?
Paul - I truly agree with that application to the 10K hours rule, and it cuts both ways. People with tremendous talent very well might/can succeed with less than 10K hours, meanwhile others who put in even more than that many hours may not be successful at all. Repeating a "flawed" technique will not truly lead to success.
Consider Tim Tebow - he has a ridiculous athletic build, crazy work ethic and student of the game. However, he spent years cultivating a flawed technique in throwing motion. All those "hours" spent perfecting something flawed - although the best use of his talents - has not put him into the mix for a starting quarterback position in the NFL.
Indeed, Gladwell's presentation of the 10K rule is a classic sufficiency/necessity flaw. For myself - I temper the 10K hours rule as follows: if you want to be good at something, you need to put in hard work, and to allocate tremendous time. And for the special few (Beatles, Gates) who had the talent and the time, they were able to come out okay, but this is not necessary or sufficient for anyone else. However, when you say it like that, it doesnt sound like much of a novel idea, right?
That being said, the way he talks about the Beatles success in the 1960s was compelling and quite interesting to read. I was born in the early 80s and obviously not alive to see the evolution and extreme popularity of the Beatles. Maybe this is embarrassing to say: but I never knew they played in Hamburg for that period of history. For me, the "novelty" of the 10K rule was the stories he used to illustrate this idea, not the actual idea itself...