Malcolm Gladwell is one of my favorite authors and storytellers. I actually require all of my Introduction to Psychology students read his book Outliers which discusses his theory on success. So I was beyond excited to read his new book that just came out in October, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants. I finished reading it last week and love the theory and book and wanted to recommend to all of you. The video below is Gladwell discussing the battle of David and Goliath. This story is traditionally referred to as a story of the underdog winning. Gladwell talks about how David was not in fact an underdog, he just appeared to be one in size up against a giant. But he fought differently which is overlooked.
The book provides interesting stories about how something we see as an advantage can actually be a disadvantage, such as growing up wealthy. (It is more difficult to learn the value of hard work at a young age when you have money). It also talks about how a seeming disadvantage can be an advantage such as having dyslexia. (When you have trouble reading you have to master other skills such as listening). Perhaps in some ways having a difficulty can be desirable?
Gladwell also discusses, with specific examples and research, why it is good to be a big fish in a little pond. For example, if you are studying science at an Ivy League university and constantly compare yourself to the best students in that big pond you may stop studying science because you feel you are not good enough compared to those that are the best. But with those same skills, at a less prestigious university, you would feel better than other students and thus be more likely to stay with science. This book contains fascinating stories of history and tales on 'ordinary' people. It touches on the limits of power and how destruction can make people stronger. I found myself constantly highlighting and reflecting on my own life when reading this book. Thinking about the times and situations where I feel like a misfit and the underdog, this book helped me think about how those feelings and situations can actually help me progress forward, which is pretty inspiring.