Disadvantages Are Really Advantages…Or Nah

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“Leaders don’t fit in.”- A quote from my hubby, not the book, but it works!

So I’d only read about thirty-something pages of David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell before I had to return it to the library because someone else had it on hold. However, the short amount that I read really made me pause and think. I felt the need to discuss the little tidbits I picked up with you anyway. Here are three points that really made me go “hmmmm.”

1. We have to rethink what an advantage and disadvantage really are.

I think this is probably one of the main points of the book (but who knows since I didn’t quite make it to page 40…smh). Here’s a quote that really struck me.

“We have, I think, a very rigid and limited definition of what an advantage is. We think things as helpful that actually aren’t and think of other things as unhelpful that in reality leave us stronger and wiser” (Gladwell 25).

The easiest example of how this is true can be drawn from that one time all of us copied a friend’s homework assignment in college. Yes, we may have got a decent grade on the assignment instead of an “F,” but if we never went back to learn the info covered in that assignment, we were S.O.L. when the final exam rolled around. It may have been an advantage to copy the assignment at first, but it was not helpful to copy instead of putting in the work to learn the material and do the assignment when the Final came calling.

Gladwell’s point has importance that goes beyond simple situations like cheating on an assignment, but it makes us realize that we have to change the way we view bad things that happen to us or situations that don’t go as planned. Instead of seeing the job that wasn’t offered to us as a disadvantage, we have to choose not to passively play the victim and figure out how one door closing in our face can help us open a different door. That different door may be the better one for us anyway. For me, this point means to see things from different angles instead of assuming that a setback means defeat.

2. Play to your strengths instead of giving up because of your weaknesses.

This idea was illustrated by Gladwell writing about the Redwood City girls’ basketball team. The team was full of underdogs and misfits, including the coach who was one of the girls’ father who had never played basketball before coaching the girls. The girls were not the typical basketball players. They were not tall and super athletic. They were not skilled at handling the ball or making long-range shots. They were horrible at offense. Instead of throwing in the towel because of everything the girls and their coach lacked, the coach called in more knowledgeable trainers than himself, listened to advice from more experienced players and coaches, and chose to focus on the girls’ strengths instead of their weaknesses. The coach knew that he couldn’t win the game playing it the conventional way. He chose to focus on defense and lay-ups. He had to push the girls to get in better shape than any of their opponents so that they could play much harder.

I love this point because I personally tend to focus way too much on what has not worked in my life or what I’m not good at instead of focusing on my strengths. All of us have things that we do better than other people. No one quite has the total package that we have to offer. Not being good at certain things should only makes us use the things that we are good at even more. I think all of us can take notes here and play up our strengths so that our weaknesses are barely noticeable anymore.

3. It’s not always about talent, but about how hard you press.

When I was in elementary school, I had kind of a rep for being one of the smartest kids in the class. You can imagine that my world collapsed when I went to one of the best high schools as well as “the Harvard of Christian colleges” and realized that I wasn’t nearly as smart or IT as I thought I was. I kind of fell into a funk and stopped trying as hard as I used to because silly me didn’t realize brains don’t mean much of anything if you don’t put it in the work.

Gladwell uses the story of the underdog girls’ basketball team to point out that it’s not about how much talent you have (at least not all the time). Rather, it’s about how hard you work. In the book, he talks about how the girls’ basketball team had to press their opposing teams on defense for the full-length of the court. They couldn’t just press their side of the court. They had to press the entire court without stopping for the whole game. It was grueling, but it worked. Sometimes when you don’t have the sheer talent that others seem to be born with, you just have to work your ass off (pardon the French) more than those who are smarter or more qualified than you.

What do you positively optimistic and powerful ladies think of Gladwell’s ideas? Will you give the book a read? Let me know in the comments or on Facebook. Also, I’ve just joined Bloglovin so be sure to follow me on there! And as always, keep it poppin’ 😉

4 thoughts on “Disadvantages Are Really Advantages…Or Nah

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