Giants Are Not What We Think They Are!!!

David Goliath is a metaphor for probable victory. Stories like it are about courage, faith, etc. But this book explored an idea that seemed counter-intuitive.  Malcolm argued that we are interpreting the stories incorrectly.  There is a scientific side that hasn’t been explored. This book was written to make them right.

With three parts and nine chapters, it has covered the stories of nine persons who faced outsized challenges and were forced to respond. Furthermore, he explored two ideas:

  • Giants are not what we think they are. The same qualities that gave then strength are often the sources of great weakness.
  • Much of what we consider valuable arises from these kinds of conflicts. The act of facing overwhelming odds provides greatness and beauty.

I loved all the parts and have favorite chapters in each of them. It was a provoking and powerful read. The depth will grip you and will leave you with a certain impact like it left on me. I highly appreciate the research, particularly in choosing the right example to explore the idea with clarity. It was also supported with asterisk marks, graphs, and research from economics, psychology, and science. Moreover, it had numerical data, and let me tell you, they were astonishing.

The content not only had scenes that were ugly, disturbing, and haunting but also filled with revelations that blew my mind. Two cases being – Caroline Sacks and Jay Freireich.

Since education is one topic you and I are familiar with, it’s worth expanding the counterintuitive approach Malcolm brought to the question: Is the most prestigious college always in our best interest?  

When faced with a choice between Brown and the University of Maryland for further studies, Caroline chose Brown, a prestigious college with a brand value and peers better than Maryland. A logical choice, right? But not for her. She was a little fish in one of the deepest and the most competitive ponds in the country. The experiences of comparing herself to all the other brilliant fishes shattered her confidence. As a result, she was demoralized and suffered relative deprivation.

The key takeaways are: A choice between options doesn’t always have to be the best and the second-best. It can be 2 very different options, each with its strengths and drawbacks. There are times and places it is better to be a Big Fish in a small pond.

Jay Fredririch’s story explored the theory of desirable difficulty using Mac Curdy’s theory of Morale.

Traumatic experiences have 2 completely different effects on people – it can either be profoundly damaging or leave you better off.  Jay’s rough childhood left him better off. It also gave him the courage to do things no doctor treating childhood leukemia dared to do and eventually developed a successful treatment for childhood leukemia.

The takeaway?  Courage is not something that you already have. Is it what you earn when you have been through the tough times and discover that the tough times aren’t so tough after all. Intriguing isn’t it?

As and when the pages turned there wasn’t a page where I wasn’t gripped or astounded by what he was talking about. It only got intense as the story unfolded.

David Goliath isn’t a series of success and inspirational stories but rather a series that will question your current perspective and increase your awareness. The by-product is that it will give you hope and faith that you can take on a giant.

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