Book Review: David and Goliath

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If you love Malcolm Gladwell’s books, you know what to expect. You know that there are great stories in this book. You expect counter-intuitive assertions, supported by solid reasoning and research. David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling has all those things. But that’s not all.

Gladwell’s other books were fascinating reads. They kickstarted my thinking. David and
Goliath does both of those things, plus this book gives you things you can put to work in your business or career. This is actionable.

Gladwell divides the book into three sections. Each one offers something you can use as soon as you shut the book. Here’s how Gladwell says it in the introduction.

“David and Goliath is a book about what happens when ordinary people confront giants. By ‘giants,’ I mean powerful opponents of all kinds— from armies and mighty warriors to disability, misfortune, and oppression. Each chapter tells the story of a different person— famous or unknown, ordinary or brilliant— who has faced an outsize challenge and been forced to respond.”

Gladwell divides the book into three sections. Each one gives you powerful insights and advice.

The Advantages of Disadvantages (and the Disadvantages of Advantages)

There are two key points here. The first is that you will get crushed into powder if you try to beat a giant, either Goliath or WalMart, at their own game. Develop strategies that let you bring your strength against the giant’s weakness.

The second, and equally important, insight is that when your unconventional tactics gain the advantage, stick with them. The human tendency is to revert to conventional tactics when you start doing well. Don’t succumb. Stick with what ‘brung ya.

The Theory of Desirable Difficulty

What’s your disability? Gladwell talks about David Bois overcoming dyslexia. The work to overcome that condition and develop another way to succeed is inspiring. But what if your “disability” is that you grew up poor or went to a state college instead of some Ivy school? Whatever it is, learning how to overcome it will make you stronger, much, much, much stronger.

The Limits of Power

Ok, what if you’re Goliath? What if you’re the one with the resources? Then this is an important section. If you have power, you better have legitimacy, too. If you don’t, when you exercise your power it will only increase resistance.

Bottom Line

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants is a typical Malcolm Gladwell book. It’s filled with fascinating stories and insights. That’s reason enough to buy it and read it. But if you put what you learn here to work, you could change your life.

This is good stuff. You can learn even more about the book by viewing a short video summary. Just click here.

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