Why you need to read David and Goliath?
When you feel powerless, you would do well to count your blessings. This doesn’t mean simply remembering that you may have a loving family around you, but that you likely have valuable resources at your disposal ready to be implemented at any moment — if only you’d recognize their strength.
Audiobook: Read by the author. Soothing and very kind voice. I want to be his friend. 🙂
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In the Bible, David & Goliath is often told as the story of an underdog who overcomes the powerful, fearsome giant with nothing, but a sling. This is indeed what it looks like at first glance.
Gladwell opens the book by leading us through the story examining each detail (note that there are many versions on some details). David, the shepherd boy, is highly skilled with his sling — not the Y-shaped kid’s toy. This boy volunteers to fight Goliath, the giant, and proven Philistine warrior, in order to break a deadlock.
As it turns out, the story is not so much about an underdog going up against a fearsome aggressor and magically winning the day. David had been using his sling to guard his flock from lions and wolves for years. Unlike Goliath, he does not wear 100lbs of armor to weigh him down. After some taunting from the giant, the boy picks up a stone and using his weapon, hits his target between the eyes, then chops off his head.
Gladwell goes on to describe all the vulnerabilities of the giant as relayed in the story — the clunky armor, apparent impaired vision, slow pace and arrogance. He also notes David’s lack of expectation almost to the point of oblivion because the boy simply knows and is confident in what he knows best.
The rest of the book goes on to cite several real world examples of the little guy opting out of “the rules” and fighting with the tools at their disposal. He discusses how the Impressionist painters had to set up their own gallery just to get noticed, when the big museums remained unimpressed; the long walks made by southern Blacks during the bus boycotts; how poor children often outshine students with enough money at their disposal to make learning a breeze; how getting high grades at a lower ranking university may result in the same real-world job as going to an Ivy League school with average results; and why so many CEOs are dyslexic. This is just a small segment of the examples he puts forward.
In high school, my history teacher, Mr. Malnati, taught us that one of the main reasons the colonies won the Revolution is because soldiers didn’t line up nice and dainty like the clearly uncamouflaged Red Coats, but practiced what today is called guerilla warfare. In other words, they targeted the Brits from trees and used decoys rather than meeting them on the battlefield, knowing they had fewer financial and material resources such as ammunition and shoes. They used their intimate knowledge of the terrain to their advantage. They faked them out.
Today, I saw an example of this in action. In Italy, doctors, frustrated with the lack of treatment options the Italian government has given to C-word patients, formed a coalition to prioritize patient health. They aren’t breaking laws. They are holding to their oaths to do no harm.
Thoughts From David And Goliath
I think the take home message is that playing by different rules doesn’t mean breaking the law. It means doing something unexpected. When you’re up against something that seems insurmountable, remember that every Goliath has an Achilles’ heel. You just have to call upon your gifts, your blessings.
Do you have any experience of going up against a Goliath and winning the day? Let me know in the comments below!
Where To Purchase
David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell is available through Amazon or fine booksellers now.
If you enjoy this topic, please read my review about The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins