Facing Goliath

I now realize with a renewed vigor that we should embrace all that seems to work against us.

I just finished reading David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell and he puts into words so many things that I think I have felt for a long time. The book is perhaps conventional wisdom at this point but it brings up points that are always worth considering.

The main point of the book is that David, always perceived as the underdog, was more likely to beat Goliath than we think. Gladwell shows how underdogs tend to rise above their station precisely because they are counted out.

It can be frustrating to perceive one’s self a disadvantaged. But if we can overcome the challenges we face, we end up stronger than someone who is “advantaged”.

Instead of counting ourselves out, we should embrace the things which seem to block our paths.

I read once that all of the world’s fastest runners are younger siblings. The theory behind this was that the smaller siblings had to run faster to keep up with their older and taller buds for their whole life. So when they got to be fully grown, they could still run with the same vigor.

I am a music major at a school that is not necessarily known for its ability to churn out skilled performers. In other words, I don’t attend a top-tier conservatory. But, the lack of big-name clout on my resume means that I have to work twice as hard to make myself hire-able. And that knowledge is the drive that pushes me to take on Goliath and maybe have a shot at winning.

Tall mountains have always had this effect on me. I was never in very good shape as a kid but when it came to backpacking, I was going to haul my ass up those mountains or die trying. Their very presence invites initiative. The unlikelihood of my ability to conquer them made me want to try twice as hard. And, more often than not, I lasted longer and was in better spirits than my athlete friends in my hiking groups.

Instead of shying away from or succumbing to intimidation as underdogs, we should face the challenges of our lives head on. Armed with the knowledge that what seems to count us out of the fight can actually give us the advantage, we can all tackle Goliath and win.



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