David and Goliath: Malcolm Gladwell's tour de force
David & Goliath will change the way you see the world
Malcolm Gladwell, the brilliant author of The Tipping Point and Outliers, is out with a new book on October 3rd.
Is there a better title for a business book? When I heard what he was up to, I was immediately, insanely jealous. I can think of a hundred authors who could have easily written a book with this title, and done a very good job indeed.
That's not what Malcolm delivered. He veers off the expected course early on, and never returns. This isn't a book about trying extra hard and defeating the big guys. No, it's a book about culture, about heroism, and about the choices that each of us make.
Malcolm is targeting the systems we've built, the truths we hold so dear and the possibility that maybe, just maybe, we can produce some more heroes.
The cover is brilliant, of course, but the cover hides what the book is actually about. Starting with a tried and true Bible parable (and of course, it's a parable, not a sportscast), Malcolm sets out to make us think deeply about what it is to foster heroism.
More important, by far, is this question: What are we doing to prevent heroism from happening?
It's easy to misunderstand the thesis of Outliers as well as the much-quoted 10,000 hours maxim. The point is that we are ALL capable of doing great work, ALL capable of doing work that matters, ALL capable of heroism. Why then, do some succeed and others never even try?
POVERTY: Again and again we see that poverty is the soul killer. People growing up in poverty are at a huge disadvantage when it comes to things like willpower, cultural awareness and most of all, the confidence to stand up and make a ruckus. Sure, some do. David was a poor goatsherd, after all. But sociologists have no debate about this--a culture that exposes its people to poverty is stealing its future.
STUPIDITY: Yes, stupidity. When you limit the pool, when the only people who get extra hockey coaching are the kids born in three months of the year, you've chosen to waste huge amounts of human potential.
And most of all, CULTURE. Silicon Valley works for the very reason that a broken inner-city fails. Because of cultural expectations. People become heroes when they're surrounded by a culture that allows them to dream it's possible.
The book ends with a poignant story about the power of forgiveness and how it informs so many other elements of our culture.