Top positive review
Reviewed in the United States on April 8, 2016
There is a particular movement throughout the chapters of this book which take you on a journey through the process of advantages versus disadvantages, split into three segments: Identifying vantage points, identifying advantages in apparent disadvantages, and the exchanges of power (as they relate to advantages and disadvantages). All advantages may seem to have disadvantages, but there’s more that meets the eye. Just as World War Z highlighted mother-nature’s greatest strength as its greatest weakness, our seemingly disadvantageous circumstances have more advantages than imagined. This idea is postured in the story of David and Goliath in the Old Testament, where David is a small and feeble character who stands up against the mighty giant warmonger, Goliath. The story ends in a twist where David defeats the giant when everyone expects the giant to win. Gladwell uses this story as an invitation to a paradigm shift - that we might see disadvantages in a new light.
Gladwell does a great job capturing plenty of true stories of people with disadvantages, or in disadvantageous situations. The first three chapters focus on redefining our situations, followed by the next three which are cause-and-effect relationships (how our disadvantages shape our lives for advantages), followed by more chapters of redefining disadvantages through questioning what real power looks like. Gladwell does a good job of interweaving these stories with data such as charts and graphs, as well as historical data to defend his main idea. Although Gladwell makes great points, you might find his story-telling to become redundant. You begin to understand where the stories are going and get used to Gladwell’s style early on in the reading. This is to be expected since Gladwell is a well-known journalist; for he collects his thoughts thoroughly and uses a set format to write his stories. Only once did I find myself questioning Gladwell’s sources, and that was on his information about Goliath’s health. He only quotes one source and uses that source heavily to prove the point that Goliath had an illness in his brain that made him big and made his movements slow. Other than that, I appreciated his use of sources.
Overall, this book is well worth reading as it can change your thinking for the better. Advantages have disadvantages, but disadvantages present the opportunity to discover new-found advantages. This is a positive message to put any underdog on top in all kinds of negative circumstances. Everyone faces giants in life. Like Goliath, those giants call us out to battle with them on their terms, but we don’t have to meet those giants on their terms. Normally when we do, we lose. Rather, we can find strengths in the greatest of weaknesses, and opportunities in all kinds of situations that turn disadvantages upside-down.