I am a big fan of Malcolm Gladwell’s books and as usual David and Goliath challenges ideas and beliefs that most of us take for granted. Like the title suggests, ‘big and strong’ do not always prevail, but it is not for the reasons that we believe. Rather than actually being the underdog, David had many advantages but first and foremost, it was refusing to play by Goliath’s rules and this was the biggest takeaway for me.
In business, this is something I have instinctively been aware of when dealing with small businesses or new entrants to a market. Strategies have been around being more agile and creative. I hadn’t necessarily seen it as not playing by the same rules but realise that there is much similarity in the approach.
Small Fish in a Big Pond or Big Fish in a Small Pond?
This discussion was fascinating. Gladwell provides compelling examples of why it is often better to be a big fish in a small pond. If not for challenging the big players’ rules of the time and creating their own small pond, the world may have missed out the Impressionists – Manet, Monet, Cezanne, Renoir.
Examples surrounding choice of school and universities have resonance to my personal life at the moment as I ponder choices for my children and reflect on my own decisions. While intellectually convinced that Big Fish in a Small Pond is the way to go, I admit I vacillate when it comes to my personal life. A lifetime of conditioning is a little difficult to undo.
Success from Adversity
It is almost counter-intuitive to believe that adversity such as dyslexia and being orphaned could directly account for success in some people’s lives. The book takes us on a journey through some of these examples. Very interesting.