Three thousand years ago, David, a simple Israelite shepherd boy, defeated Goliath, a mighty Philistine warrior, with nothing but a slingshot. This epic battle is perceived as the ultimate underdog victory. But is it really? The premise of Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book David and Goliath is based on the fact that David won because of his disadvantages rather than in spite of them. Leave it to Gladwell to take a story we’ve heard our entire lives and turn it upside down!
Gladwell sites several incidences where either disadvantages turned out to be advantages or advantages became disadvantages. For example, it is commonly accepted by parents and teachers that smaller classes are better than larger classes. In large classrooms, it is much more difficult for students to concentrate and they receive less individual attention from the teacher. In a smaller classroom setting, students receive more individual attention. Thus, it is believed that students in smaller classes receive a better education. Statistics actually prove otherwise. A smaller class mean less differences of opinion and less people to contribute to the conversation. The classroom size in which students perform the best academically is somewhere in the middle.
As usual, Gladwell pushes the reader to think out of the box, to look at a situation from an alternative perspective. Rarely do we realize that advantages, just like disadvantages, have their limitations. If you’ve ever felt like an underdog, then hopefully this book will resonate with you.