Defeating Giants

Malcolm Gladwell has written a really cool essay for the New Yorker titled, “How David Beats Goliath”. Gladwell is a prolific writer and I believe this article is extremely applicable to revolutionaries attempting to fight the system. Pairing an example of a basketball team composed of young girls, coached by a foreigner with the classic story of David and Goliath, the essay illustrates principles of successful insurgents.

When underdogs choose not to play by Goliath’s rules, they win…

David can beat Goliath by substituting effort for ability—and substituting effort for ability turns out to be a winning formula for underdogs in all walks of life, including little blond-haired girls on the basketball court.

…David pressed. That’s what Davids do when they want to beat Goliaths.

First, Gladwell suggests that in order to successfully win against a stronger opponent, you must be willing to outwork and out hustle them. In the examples cited, the hustling “underdog” attacks their Goliath at their weakest point, something that usually requires a whole lot of hustle. The article mentions that many people are not willing to go to this length, in fact, they’d rather lose than put in this kind of effort.

A slight mass advantage...

Secondly, the author claims that:

Insurgents work harder than Goliath. But their other advantage is that they will do what is “socially horrifying”—they will challenge the conventions about how battles are supposed to be fought…

You have to be outside the establishment…to have the audacity to play it that way.

In other words, thinking outside of the box, challenging the way it has always been, bucking tradition, or changing the rules of play! However, Gladwell points out that those who dare to defy traditions and unwritten rules of engagement often end up making a lot of people angry!

Doesn’t that sound like Jesus Christ, the ultimate revolutionary? Jesus was willing to challenge religious tradition and break the rules established by the power mongers of the day. It lead to his death. The goliaths Jesus was facing wanted people to play by their rules. However, God’s plan was so unconventional – and shocking! Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, so we could receive him and be reconciled with our creator!

I believe this article is a must-read, as there are many parallels with Christian ministry and love ethics to be found.

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