David and Goliath – Malcolm Gladwell
This is a book about what happens when the ordinary people confront the giants (opponents) of all kind like mighty army, disabilities, misfortune or oppression. Various stories emphasizes on how davids have taken over goliaths and have proven over multiple times that it is not only the mighty or one with the advantages succeed but those davids using disadvantages of the advantages of goliath and or using advantages of their own disadvantages that they have beaten them time and again.
Giants are not what we think they are. The same qualities that appear to give them strength are often the sources of great weakness. And the fact of being an underdog can change in ways that we often fail to appreciate: it can open doors and create opportunities and educate and enlighten and make possible what might otherwise seemed unthinkable.
Part One - Advantages of Disadvantages and (Disadvantages of Advantages)
In a classroom if the student teacher ratio is high, the quality of education is often affected. With the intent of improving the quality, if this ratio is reduced, the quality of attention and hence education the teacher gives to students would improve. However if this ratio is further decreased, there would be the same deterioration of quality as was seen when the ratio is high. This finding has been proven through studies (and the specifics are given in the book).
One interesting example of relation between parenting and money is noteworthy. More money is not always better. Obviously it is also very hard to be a good parent if you have too little money. But having huge money and parenting only makes it easier till a certain point – the point economists would refer to where “Diminishing Marginal Returns” sets in. The children of rich parents have everything and most rich parents cannot teach “work hard, be independent, learn the meaning of money” unlike the children of marginalized parents. A parent has to set limits. But that’s one of the most difficult things for the riches because they don’t know what to say when having the excuse of ‘we cant afford it’ is gone. It is difficult for a rich parent to say “ we don’t have the money” because if you have a teenager, the teenager says, ‘ Excuse me. You have a Ferrari and Mom has a Jaguar. ‘
The parents have to switch from ‘No, we can’t ’ to ‘No, we won’t.’
But saying ‘No, we won’t.’ is much harder for a rich parent.
Graph (page 52-53)
The inverted U curve reminds us that there is a point at which money and resources stop making our lives better and start making them worse. Another example - of striving to join the best college or institutions might making things worse at certain point. You might have been the best of your schools (Big Fish, small pond) but as you join the best college or university, you would have to compete with the best of other schools (Big Fishes, Bigger Pond). It is likely that you may not live upto your own expectations of being the best in this college and hence if not realized, might hurt your own self esteem. So instead of doing the good, this point can simply be the point of downfall.
We strive for the best and attach great importance to getting the finest institutions we can. But rarely do we stop and consider whether the most prestigious of institutions is always in our best interest.
Part Two – The Theory of Desirable Difficulty
Dyslexia is a problem in many humans since the developmental stage of the foetus. The dyslexics have problem in processing what is being heard, have difficulty in reading fluently and comprehending. So as dyslexics grow, the discovery of the peers being able to read and respond faster and his inability would be frustrating. Peers think you are stupid. Parents think you are lazy. With low self- esteem, the kids would get into depression. Many such kids get into criminal activity.
And so no parents would wish dyslexia on their child! Or would you?
But there are many success stories of Dyslexics. Dyslexia – in the best of cases – forces you to develop skills that might otherwise have lain dormant. Gary Cohn, is the president of Goldman Sachs. Sir Richard Branson the British billionaire entrepreneur, Charles Schwab, the founder of Brokerage firm, John Chambers, CEO of CISCO are few names who are dyslexic and have made it huge in the business world.
This remarkable group of people triumphed inspite of their disability. They are so smart and creative that nothing – even the lifetime of struggling with reading couldn’t stop them. Secondly because of their difficulty in comprehending difficult things, they often make it to the simplest possible for them to understand. When they understand, the whole world understands making it easy for their employees and customers.
Any such difficult situations have two ways to deal with. Accept and live in difficulty or Accept and find an alternate better route to live and overcome the difficulty. David finds the courage to take on Goliath and win over.
Malcolm Gladwell has made references to examples from history, science, human psychology, business and politics to prove the point that it is not always the giants that make the victory but an underdog with disadvantages that triumph.