Johnnie Cochran: An Outlier
By: Ryan Starr
Johnnie Cochran was an infamous American lawyer, who gained recognition from his highly publicized and controversial cases as a successful defense attorney. Born as an African-American on October 2, 1937 in Shreveport, Louisiana, Cochran grew up facing extreme racial prejudice and learned valuable life experience at a young age (Cochran Biography 1). Turning a deaf ear to discrimination, Cochran did well in school and got good grades. His father and mother always stressed education, and Cochran learned to apply himself at various public schools (Cochran Biography 1). His ability to succeed was, in part, due to a more accepting community in Los Angeles, where Cochran spent most of his later childhood (Cochran 12). Johnnie Cochran was not poor by any standards; his dad had a stable and well-paying job in life insurance (Cochran Biography 1). However, Cochran was known to envision himself with more money and the possibilities thereafter. He would often befriend richer classmates in order to experience a more luxurious lifestyle (Cochran Biography 1). Johnnie Cochran understood that hard work and his natural people skills allowed him to integrate well with his rich friends. Unaware of his wildly, successful future, Cochran would first have to discover a field in which his skills and opportunities could be utilized. Johnnie Cochran’s adherence to the 10,000 hour rule, his exposure to meaningful work, and his ability to express what he wanted all support Gladwell’s theory of what defines an outlier. Without these qualities, Johnnie Cochran would have never been one of America’s best lawyers. Furthermore, the opportunities that allowed Cochran to achieve and acknowledge these qualities provided him with the proud status of a unique outlier. Johnnie Cochran Jr. was named after his father and grew up in a stable household with loving parents. Education became a philosophy for success and was clearly ingrained in...
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