Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Book Review: Are You David or Goliath?

Ever stopped yourself from working on a dream because you thought you were not ready or it was too big for you to put together? We sometime convince ourselves that we are not skilled, educated or experienced enough to attempt going after ideas or opportunities close to our hearts. 

Malcolm Gladwell, addresses this very mind-set in his book, David and Goliath, Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants.  Throughout the book references the lives of game changers to make the point that we can be who or what we want to be – or at least try, regardless of our so-called weaknesses.

As I read this book I recalled many times in my life that I backed down on an opportunity because I believed it was meant for someone from a better school, a higher education or more experience. In those moments I discounted the fact that I was passionate about those subjects or would enjoy the challenge of learning about a field I was curious about.

“The powerful and the strong are not always what they seem” – writes Gladwell.

This quote speaks to the fact that we are all on a journey, trying to figure it all out. The book’s title is based on a story from the Bible about a small shepherd boy David, who defeated a large, giant-like warrior, Goliath. I’ve always believed that this was one of those stories that show that even the small guy stands a chance of winning sometimes.

What Gladwell has done with this story is unpack the fact that the small guy can win, using the big guy’s so called strength against him. He attributes David’s win to the fact that he stuck to what he was good at, was true to himself and the fact that Goliath took him for granted. Basically – Goliath was so used to being perceived as powerful because of his size – but that worked against him this time.

Goliath also assumed how the fight would happen. David broke the rules; brought the sling and stones, hit Goliath on his unprotected forehead and used the giants own sword to cut off its head...

Are you David, or are you Goliath?

Is your own power going to come to your destruction? It’s at moments like these I think of power brands like: Kodak, Nokia and Blackberry – they didn’t see the David’s coming at them with the sling-shot and a stone. Whilst they were comfortable with their position, they didn’t realise the game was changing, they were comfortable in their success. 

Nokia's CEO, was quoted as saying, “we didn’t do anything wrong, but somehow we lost”. And he was right, they didn’t do anything wrong and so did Goliath. Goliath, like a true warrior of the time, suited up, got his sword ready and was ready to get into combat with another warrior. No one told him about, sling shots and stones – he was never ready.

So if the bible means much to you, that story is a lovely proof point that you can be the underdog that takes over the world and does something exceptional.

“David and Goliath is a book about what happens when ordinary people confront giant. By “giants”, I mean powerful opponents of all kinds – from armies and mighty warriors to disability, misfortune, and oppressions,” writes Gladwell.

“Should I play by the rules or follow my own instincts? Shall I preserve or give up? Should I strike back or forgive?”

Throughout his book he references famous people and those we do not know but all the stories back a great point. From a father who taught basketball with heart to parents who had to make a choice whether to forgive the criminal that hurt their daughter. 

He even looks at career choices that were made based on the university one chose and the assumption that being smart in school doesn’t always mean you’ll be a success when you get to the adult world.

We all have giants in our lives. What’s yours and have you figured out how you will win the battle?

Dyslexia made me a better business man” - Richard Branson is quoted as saying in Fortune Magazine. That’s an example of a man that beat his Goliath.

I’d recommend Malcolm Gladwell as a great reference for conquering fear and the unknown. When I closed this book – I figured I could go out into the world, give it my all and maybe one day I’ll be the underdog that defeated a Goliath.

“Giants are not what we think they are. The same qualities that appear to give them strength are often the sources of great weakness”

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