A few months ago I finished reading Malcolm Gladwell’s new book, David and Goliath — Underdogs, Misfits, And the Art of Battling Giants…
It’s about battling the odds. Winning when there’s no way to win in sight.
The book opens with the legend of David and Goliath.
It’s 11 BCE at the valley of Elah. Before the mountains plunge into the valley, the Israelites huddle together on the ridge and look across the land to the Philistenes—an army of men from Crete who’ve come to fight them.
They stand patiently in the valley and look to the ridge of Israelites. They do not attack.
Instead, a small attendant with a shield walks forward. He leads a giant. The giant wears a bronze helmet and full body armor. He carries a spear and javelin, a sword on his hip.
This was to be a battle of “single combat.” A common practice in ancient warfare.
Two sides of a conflict seek to avoid the heavy bloodshed of a full-blown battle by choosing one warrior to fight on the behalf of his army.
The Israelites have no one to match the size and strength of this Philistine giant.
King Saul, the leader of the Israelites, doesn’t know what to do.
Then a shepherd boy who had come from Bethlehem to bring food to his brothers volunteers to fight.
King Saul protests. How could someone so small and without combat experience stand a chance against the ogre waiting in the valley?
The boy insists.
The King relents and lets the boy go. He offers the boy a sword, armor and a shield. But he will not take them. Instead he runs down to the valley with only his Shepherd’s stick and a sling in hand.
On his way down, he picks up 5 smooth stones and puts them in his shoulder bag.
The giant’s name is Goliath. The boy’s name is David.
Goliath starts laughing. He says, “Am I a dog that you should come to me with sticks?”
He’s almost insulted that the Israelites would send someone so ill-matched for battle.
Meanwhile, David puts one of his stones into the leather pouch of his sling and hurls the projectile at Goliath’s forehead with the strength of a beretta m9 and the accuracy of a sniper rifle.
Skull Fracture. Right between the eyes. Goliath falls to his knees, dust erupts around him.
The small shepherd boy has defeated the armored giant. And the Israelites have won the battle against the Philistines.
Let’s apply this to modern day business.
There’s another chapter in Gladwell’s book where he talks about dyslexic CEO’s.
The fact that their struggle is their strength.
Because they have to work harder in different areas (crucial areas) like listening and speaking while everyone else is merrily skipping along through the standard curriculum.
And it turns out, the skills these dyslexic kids develop are pretty darn important when they reach adulthood… especially when it comes to business.
See, against all odds, David was sure of himself.
He wasn’t afraid to descend into the valley to fight the Goliath because he knew that he wouldn’t be fighting the way that everyone expected him to.
He knew that he had a secret no one else could touch.
And you, my friend, have a secret like this too.
What you may think is a weakness can be turned on a dime into a strength.
See, as a species we bond through struggle, through sharing our weaknesses… to build our circles of allies and confidants.
So, if you take whatever “secret weakness” you’ve got… and share it…
You will discover, you have an unfair advantage over everyone else in your market.
And here’s the thing…
If you take that weakness… blow it up… tell it loud and proud… make that skeleton dance…
It’ll only make you more powerful.
So, when you’re playing the game of business against opponents who seems to have an advantage over you…
Simply change the rules of the game.