Malcolm Gladwell on David and Goliath

Think you know the story of David and Goliath?

Think again.

In the hands of Malcolm Gladwell, the story of David and Goliath takes on new meaning. Or rather, Gladwell turns our typical interpretation of this classic biblical story on its head.

As Gladwell points out, we tend to read the David and Goliath story as the tale of an improbable victory of a relative weakling over a mighty warrior. Indeed, the phrase has been so incorporated into our language that many use it – in describing the underdog victory of one sports team over another, for instance – without even knowing its source.

But as Gladwell tells it, the story is really about a canny warrior who uses all the advantages at his disposal to wreak havoc on his opponent. For while David isn’t a warrior in the typical sense of heavy infantry – bearing armor, sword, and shield, for instance – he is armed with one of the deadliest weapons of the ancient world, a sling.

You can watch Gladwell retell and reinterpret this story in his 15-minute TED Talk, and you will learn a lot about the ancient world. But if you listen carefully, you’ll also take away the main point of Gladwell’s talk – and the main point of his excellent new book David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants – that giants aren’t always as powerful as they seem, advantages aren’t always advantages, and disadvantages ( as we saw yesterday) are sometimes the most important advantages you can have.

Note: If you are receiving this TED Talk by email you may need to click here to watch the video.