“David and Goliath” by Malcolm Gladwell

Gladwell ranks among my favorite authors. Blink, Tipping Point and especially Outliers are among my favorite personal, leadership and business reads of all time. I also enjoyed What the Dog Saw; however, it is of a different genre – more of a coffee table collection of short stories. David and Goliath is a combination of both. Gladwell explores the weakness of perceived power and the power of perceived weakness by sharing a wonderful collection of true stories. At no point does Gladwell propose that a deficiency is desirable, simply that they can be overcome.

A few quotes that I highlighted along the way are:

  • Wealth contains the seeds of its own destruction.
  • What is possible is not always right.
  • What matters, in determining the likelihood of getting a science degree, is not just how smart you are. It’s how smart you feel relative to the other people in your classroom.
  • Too often, we jump to the conclusion that there is only one kind of response to something terrible and traumatic. There isn’t.
  • Courage is not something that you already have that makes you brave when the tough times start. Courage is what you earn when you’ve been through the tough times and you discover they aren’t so tough after all.
  • The third desirable difficulty: the unexpected freedom that comes from having nothing to lose.
  • When the law is applied in the absence of legitimacy, it does not produce obedience. It produces the opposite. It leads to backlash.
  • “We have all done something dreadful in our lives, or have felt the urge to.” – Candace Derksens (Mennonite mother of a murdered child)
  • “The whole Mennonite philosophy is that we forgive and we move on.” – Candace Derksens (Mennonite mother of a murdered child)
  • An enemy who is indifferent to the outcome of a battle is the most dangerous enemy of all.


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