What can we learn from the story of David and Goliath? For those who don’t know the story of David and Goliath, in a nutshell, it’s about David, a seemingly greatly disadvantaged opponent due to his size, duelling a warrior who on the surface appears to have a greater advantage through his might and brawn. However, despite the illusionary advantages that Goliath had, David wins the duel with a sling. From this tale and other analogies written throughout the book, Malcolm Gladwell addresses how some “disadvantages” aren’t exactly what they appear to be; a further investigation shows that there are advantages to having disadvantages. Here are some points to the book:
1. In life, whether small or big, you will always be faced with challenges. However, knowing how to deal with these challenges is what will set you apart from the crowd. Don’t fight fire with fire, fight fire with water; think outside the box to play the game in an unconventional way. If you think hard enough, you can find another solution to the problem, be innovative! “The historian Baruch Halpern argues that the sling was of such importance in ancient warfare that the three kinds of warriors balanced one another, like each gesture in the game of rock, paper, scissors. With their long pikes and armor, infantry could stand up to cavalry. Cavalry could, in turn, defeat projectile warriors, because the horses moved too quickly for artillery to take proper aim. And projectile warriors were deadly against infantry, because a big lumbering soldier, weighed down with armor, was a sitting duck for a slinger who was launching projectiles from a hundred yards away. ‘This is why the Athenian expedition to Sicily failed in the Peloponnesian War,’ Halpern writes. ‘Thucydides describes at length how Athens’s heavy infantry was decimated in the mountains by local light infantry, principally using the sling.“
2. What you perceive to be an advantage may actually be a disadvantage. Having it all can lead to overconfidence in oneself which then causes a lack of an awareness of one’s weaknesses. There’s no infallibility in life and everyone has an Achilles heal that we should always look out for despite how much we think we’ve got. Pay attention to both the advantages and disadvantages of advantages. “‘My own instinct is that it’s much harder than anybody believes to bring up kids in a wealthy environment,’ he said. ‘People are ruined by challenged economic lives. But they’re ruined by wealth as well because they lose their ambition and they lose their pride and they lose their sense of self-worth. It’s difficult at both ends of the spectrum. There’s some place in the middle which probably works best of all.’“
3. For those of you who think money doesn’t equate to happiness, it does according to scientists. Through research, scientists have discovered that an equivalent of a household annual income of $75,000 in the United States is needed to pay for basic necessities which gets you out of scarcity mode, and thus boosts your happiness level. This number of course varies depending on where you live and what sort of expenses you have. After $75,000, your level of happiness only boosts in small increments though. “Money makes parenting easier until a certain point – when it stops making much of a difference. What is that point? The scholars who research happiness suggest that more money stops making people happier at a family income of around seventy-five thousand dollars a year. After that, what economists call ‘diminishing marginal returns’ sets in. If your family makes seventy-five thousand and your neighbor makes a hundred thousand, that extra twenty-five thousand a year means that your neighbor can drive a nicer car and go out to eat slightly more often But it doesn’t make your neighbor happier than you, or better equipped to do the thousands of small and large things that make for being a good parent.“
4. Surround yourself with a good mix of people who you believe are ahead of where you’d like to be, those who are on your level, and those who you believe you’re ahead of in life. By including a good mix of these people in to your life, you’ll get a chance to round out your emotional stability. Our emotions are directly affected by those around us locally. Always being around people who you believe is above you isn’t going to help you emotionally. “Stouffer’s point is that we form our impressions not globally, by placing ourselves in the broadest possible context, but locally-by comparing ourselves to people ‘in the same boat as ourselves.’ Our sense of how deprived we are is relative. This is one of those observations that is both obvious and (upon exploration) deeply profound, and it explains all kinds of otherwise puzzling observations. Which do you think, for example, has a higher suicide rate: countries whose citizens declare themselves to be very happy, such as Switzerland, Denmark, Iceland, the Netherlands, and Canada? or countries like Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain, whose citizens describe themselves as not very happy at all? Answer: the so-called happy countries. It’s the same phenomenon as in the Military Police and the Air Corps. If you are depressed in a place where most people are pretty unhappy, you compare yourself to those around you and you don’t feel all that bad. But can you imagine how difficult it must be to be depressed in a country where everyone else has a big smile on their face?“
By Ryan Lee
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