David and Goliath

When the idea of writing this post first entered my mind, I thought about the many medical, insurance, familial, financial, legal, transportation, and societal challenges patients, survivors, and caregivers face during their journeys from brain injury (adversity) to recovery (the new normal). Alex Banayan’s review of Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book helped me find the words to explain 1) the battle between the underdog and corporate giants and 2) a strategy for defeating the corporate giants.

2013-1104 David and GoliathAccording to Alex Banayan, who wrote a review of Malcolm Gladwell’s book, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, Gladwell “examines the surprising principles behind how underdogs beat out giants. Like most of Gladwell’s books, he shares lessons that are not only wildly thought-provoking, but also unavoidably true in the business world.” My thought, at least with the scenarios below, is the principles which are true in the business world are also true in the world of recovery from adversity such as brain injury.

Choose to be a Big Fish in a Little Pond

In the review, Banayan mentioned an excerpt from the book in which entrepreneur Elon Musk said, “’I recommend that people consider arenas outside of the Internet.’ Instead of starting another Internet company like most entrepreneurs, Elon Musk entered fields in which few people are crazy enough to venture: a rocket ship company (SpaceX) and an electric sports car company (Tesla).”

Gladwell continues by asking if you have been “tempted to pursue a field simply because you saw others striking it rich? Or have you ever had an idea but were too afraid to make it a reality because it was so different? Just because there are plenty of successful entrepreneurs in a certain field doesn’t mean you have to follow their lead. When you innovate in a smaller niche, not only do you get more attention from media and investors, but you also give yourself the gift of operating in a space with less competition—less fish.”

Proposed Solution: Spend less time thinking about what you can’t do and more time thinking about what you can do. Explore all possibilities, not just the typical ones.

Your Visible Disadvantage Is Actually Your Hidden Mega-Advantage

Also in the review, Banayan mentioned stories from Gladwell’s book in which two people became tremendously successful in spite of their challenges with dyslexia. In the first story, director Steven Spielberg talks about how he channeled his disadvantage into an advantage by honing his skill of visual storytelling.  In the second story, Sir Richard Branson had to make up for his dyslexia by honing his verbal communication skills and charisma. What once was once their biggest disadvantages became their biggest mega-advantages.

According to Banayan, “Gladwell proves that not only do many successful people have dyslexia, but that they have become successful in large part because of having to deal with their difficulty. Those diagnosed with dyslexia are forced to explore other activities and learn new skills that they may not have otherwise pursued.”

Proposed Solution: Consider the possibility that things are not always as they seem upon the first glance. Perhaps that which first appears to be the only solution is just one of many alternatives or opportunities for success.

Your Turn

  • In your ideal “new normal” are you a little fish in a big pond or a big fish in a little pond?
  • Which of your challenges are really your mega advantages?

Thanks to Jack C. Crawford for sharing the article, Alex Banayan for writing a review of Gladwell’s latest book, Malcolm Gladwell for writing the book upon which the article is based, and all people who, directly or indirectly, made it possible for me to include the picture and text I used in this post.



  1. My injuries saved me from remaining an automated 9-5 worker in law. Over 25 years of law…gone. At the time I thought my entire sense of being was taken from me. Financial necessity led me to the entrepeneurial world, and I’ve not only changed my life, I’ve helped others change theirs. However, it’s not simply financially; it’s spiritually–being grateful for each day. This has been crucial in my volunteer work. As to being a fish of any kind in a pond of any size, I prefer to be flying through the sky. My injuries didn’t create a “new” me; they simply helped me to discover my true, inner self. A true gift.

    1. Mary, I like how you completely redesign the paradigm of the fish. I think the same way about a glass of water. My glass is neither half empty nor half full. I am thankful that I can hold hold the glass. There are many people in this world who have neither a cup nor safe drinking water.

  2. Hi SCOTT, I could not agree with you more than what you had said here!

    That is why my landing page is about turning disabilities to abilities.

    I discovered that my greatest problem can be changed to into my biggest asset!



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