Good morning and Happy Wednesday
In the Miss Jones office we have some nice little books floating around, but my favourite author has to be Malcolm Gladwell. The author of Blink: The Power of Thinking and The Tipping Point. His books are spot on when it comes to overcoming facing challenges or obstacles that come into our lives.
Gladwell’s latest book, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants, explains how disadvantages and obstacles can empower you to enact a giant-killing of your own.
“Each chapter tells the story of a different person who has faced an outsized challenge and been forced to respond,” explains Gladwell.
So how does it work? Read our 10-step guide to going from underdog to overlord.
Enjoy and I am sure you will be hitting the search button for Amazon after reading this.
CHANGE THE RECORD
Change your definition of an advantage and work out a creative way to beat the big guy. Instead of thinking “my opponent knows more than me”, think “how can I use what I know?” Gladwell’s analogy is inevitably a sports one: a basketball coach who has never played but has observed the formula of the pros. He applies it to coaching his daughter’s team which, perhaps inevitably, storms to victory.
TAKE THE RISK
While David versus Goliath is a movie-maker’s favourite, few people put money on the little guy: it’s why you get a massive payout when a third division team beats Arsenal. But sometimes you have to take the risk, whether that’s betting on the underdog or applying for a role you doubt you’ll get.
DON’T BE THE LITTLE FISH
Find your own pond to dominate instead of joining the shoal of little fish in the bottomless sea. Be entrepreneurial; speak out if you want something to change, and if it doesn’t, look elsewhere. Gladwell applies the principle to academia: “We compare ourselves to those in the same situation as ourselves, which means students in an elite school — except, perhaps, those at the very top of the class — face a burden that they would not face in a less competitive atmosphere.”
PROS AND CONS 2.0
Think laterally and about the long-term implications of pros and cons. It’s about five years’ time, not next month. Gladwell emphasises that sometimes it’s not about the big name but picking the option that best suits you.
FORGET THE HATERS
“What matters … is not just how smart you are. It’s how smart you feel relative to the other people,” Gladwell writes. Don’t compare yourself to other people: it shifts the focus from yourself which can slow you down.
Gladwell observes that “an extraordinarily high number of successful entrepreneurs are dyslexic”. While there’s nothing new — but plenty that’s glib — about “what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger”, there is a more sophisticated argument that having to work harder in one area fosters the instinct to apply equivalent pressure elsewhere. Try something unfamiliar, then replicate the energy.
PREPARE TO FAIL
You won’t win every time but that’s okay: “Learning how to deal with the possibility of failure is really good preparation for a career in the business world,” says Gladwell. Don’t get mad, be rational and analytical.
“Courage is what you earn when you’ve been through the tough times and you discover that they aren’t so tough after all.” Unless you truly are the embodiment of a charmed life (see Middletons), you’ve probably faced up to something difficult. Give yourself a pat on the back and recapture that inner strength.
ACCEPT that YOU HAVE TO MOVE ON
Don’t get clingy: just accept your solution is wrong and change your tactics.
Giant-slayers seize opportunities. David hit Goliath with a rock, then chopped his head off when he fell over. Sometimes no plan is a perfectly good plan.