Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers pretty much dispells the myth of the hero going on to great success by dint (I love that word) of hard work, pluck, and smarts. It just doesn't work that way. In the vast, vast majority of cases, the successful,

"...got a big head start, an opportunity they neither deserved nor earned. And that opportunity played a critical role in their success."

Your Horatio Alger stories are accurate as far as that goes, streaming and mentoring are huge. Right in the opening of the book, he details why boys get ahead in the Canadian Junior Hockey League meritocracy: the cut off date for boys age X is such that those born in the first three months of the year have a little bit more maturity, status, growth than those born closer to the cut off date.

And the advantage is cumulative, these boys start off doing marginally better, and get more attention, support and direction than the rest. They are put into the hockey "stream." The advantage continues accumulating all the way through that person's career. Those who make it into the NHL exhibit the same pattern of birthdate distribution as those in the Juniors. Those born 5 or 6 months later have little chance right from the start.

Alger was right. It's not a moral, it's a dynamic.

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Sun Feb 15th, 2009 at 09:30:03 PM EST
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