Late Bloomers Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: Late Bloomers will help you become more patient with the speed of your progress by identifying the damaging influences of early achievement culture and societal pressure and how to be proud of reaching your peak later in life.

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Late Bloomers Summary

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For some reason, we have this idea in our head that we need to excel in school, graduate with honors, and land a dream job all by the time we’re in our mid-twenties. Maybe it’s because we constantly hear stories of people like Mark Zuckerburg or Kylie Jenner being ultra-rich and successful at such young ages we feel like we need to make something of ourselves by 30. 

Our world might make us feel pressure to prove ourselves by some imaginary deadline. But we’re all individuals, who develop at very individual paces. It’s okay to need a little longer to find your path.

This was true for best-selling author Rich Karlgaard. He got average grades in college and spent much of his twenties working odd-jobs. It wasn’t until years later that he found what he was passionate about and eventually became the publisher of Forbes. 

In his book, Late Bloomers: The Power of Patience in a World Obsessed with Early Achievement, Kaarlgard shares his personal experiences and explores the reasons behind why we are so preoccupied with early success in life. He explains the damaging effects this pressure can have on young minds. And best of all, he reassures readers that being a late bloomer is nothing to be ashamed of, rather, it’s something to be celebrated.  

These were just 3 of the many life-changing lessons I learned from the book:

  1. The recent standard of early achievement is negatively affecting young people who think they need to make something of themselves as fast as possible.
  2. Not all people progress at the same rate, it just depends on when their brain develops.
  3. Let go of societal influences to realize that you have the freedom to grow as slowly as you want.

Calling all Late Bloomers! Let’s get into these lessons and discover how to become more patient with ourselves!

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Lesson 1: Young people are suffering from the new standard of early achievement.

When we obsess over this unrealistic ideal that we need to be successful at a young age, we send a dangerous message to young people. The message is if you haven’t started a successful international company, made seven figures, or completely disrupted an industry by the time you’re 30, you’re a failure. 

Chasing after this ideal is leading to an increased obsession with test scores and college rankings. Most teens will take SAT exams many times to get the score they need to be accepted into a good university. 

This costs parents thousands in tutors, test prep, and testing fees. But as for the students, they pay the price by having added stress that is harmful to their mental health. Depression is now the number one illness among adolescents, and suicide rates continue to rise. 

Scientific author Jean M. Twenge has a theory that the reason we see this decline in the mental health of adolescents is that there has been a society shift from intrinsic goals to extrinsic ones. Intrinsic goals focus on your own personal development such as establishing a strong sense of self. Extrinsic goals, however, tend to focus on things that are material such as money, good looks, or test scores. 

Lesson 2: The rate of mental progression differs from person to person.

The author certainly wasn’t an early bloomer. By 25, he was floundering. He graduated college with few career prospects and held a job as a security guard. 

But in his late twenties, he described the feeling like his brain had “woken up.” Suddenly he had the patience to read publications like the New York Times instead of just watching TV news. He had a flow of entrepreneurial ideas and was able to write complex business proposals

What had caused the awakening, he wondered? The research shows that most young people between 18 and 25 just aren’t fully adult yet. They actually lack a few cognitive processes that a fully functioning adult brain would have. 

The prefrontal cortex, or the rational part of the brain that organizes, plans, and problem-solves, is actually the last part to fully develop. So you can rest easy knowing that your brain just may not be ready to bloom until a little later.

Karlgaard suggests that we stop pushing kids to be cognitively exceptional when their brains simply aren’t fully developed yet. Instead, parents should let kids bloom in their own time and allow them to do what interests them. 

Lesson 3: You can grow as slowly as you want, don’t let societal expectations hold you back from taking the time you need to reach your full potential.

Erik Wahl was taught at a young age that all he needed to be successful was to get exceptional grades, go to a top college, and land a high-paying job. Following this path, he did become successful. But when the economic crash halted his industry, he lost it all. 

When he realized the old belief system didn’t work anymore, he tried something else he always was interested in. He started hanging out with artists and began to learn to paint. The more he painted, the better he got, and soon he was making more than he did as a businessman. 

All of us feel some of this cultural pressure to live up to certain expectations. This pressure can easily lead us down a path that isn’t good for us. If you feel like you haven’t bloomed, examine the cultural influences around you and see if they’re holding you back.

Say your family is pressuring you to become a doctor and you feel it’s not for you. It may be time to let their expectations go and claim your independence. You don’t need to reject their love, but show them that you need to choose your own path.

Late Bloomers Review

I feel like Late Bloomers was written for me because from the moment I turned 18 I didn’t feel like an adult. After this, I feel a lot better about how long it took me to get to where I am today. If you can relate, you’re going to love the way this book improves your outlook on life!

Who would I recommend the Late Bloomers summary to?

The 62-year-old parent of a kid in their thirties who seems to be floundering, the 27-year-old recent college graduate that feels out of place in the adult world, and anyone that struggles to be patient with themselves when it comes to growth of all kinds.

Last Updated on July 23, 2023

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Luke Rowley

With over 450 summaries that he contributed to Four Minute Books, first as a part-time writer, then as our full-time Managing Editor until late 2021, Luke is our second-most prolific writer. He's also a professional, licensed engineer, working in the solar industry. Next to his day job, he also runs Goal Engineering, a website dedicated to achieving your goals with a unique, 4-4-4 system. Luke is also a husband, father, 75 Hard finisher, and lover of the outdoors. He lives in Utah with his wife and 3 kids.