In his latest book, ‘David and Goliath’, Malcolm Gladwell writes: “Giants are not what we think they are. The same qualities that appear to give them strength are often the sources of great weakness. And the fact of being an underdog can change people in ways that we often fail to appreciate: it can open doors and create opportunities and educate and enlighten and make possible what might otherwise have seemed unthinkable.”
A false notion that Goliaths can’t be defeated has existed over centuries. In Indian mythology, demons have been portrayed as big bodied creatures. In world history, some countries’ powers were elucidated as undefeatable and hence called the giants. When it comes to industries and large corporations with hefty revenues and market shares, we refer to them as corporate giants. Deloitte, PwC, Ernst & Young and KPMG are collectively referred to as ‘The Big Four’ because they have created an oligopoly in auditing large companies.
The fact that demons had monstrous powers, giant countries in the wars had immense physical strength or/and resources, large corporations have big bank balances and The Big Four have majority market share is undeniable. However, the assumption that these qualities ultimately make them winners is a myth.
While most of us remain in awe of these giants there are some who challenge them and win too. How do they do that? The first step toward defeating the Goliaths is to realize that their skills, powers and influence are real. But the disadvantage, fear and helplessness we feel as a consequence of it are our own creation. So, even if you feel like an underdog it is possible to carve your own path in the jungle of giants.
Don’t escape, accept and change
If you have to win a battle, you have to fight on the same grounds as your competitors. You have to accept facts, deal with prejudices, argue over conventions, innovate and work harder than your competitors. Rejecting reality is a waste of time and, needless to say, you can never plan and strategize to win on illusionary grounds. Embrace reality and then find your way to change it.
Speed will not kill
Once you accept ground realities you have to be quick to understand where you stand. You will have a special set of advantages and disadvantages over others. Everyone does. You need to figure out both very fast. Get wings, get on a skateboard, get whatever works.
Make disadvantages work
You may be a bad dancer and it can keep you off the floor in a party. You are missing out on all the attention and fun. Are you at a disadvantage here? Not really if you can turn the situation around. Maybe you are good at making people laugh. Crack a few jokes. See how the limelight shifts on you. You can win over by using your disadvantage as a platform to find a bigger advantage for yourself.
Tailor your strategy
Having a good strategy is a game changer. You may have a special disadvantage that puts you at an advantage in a peculiar way that many people won’t understand. You should strategize to reach your goals in a way that suits your strengths and work religiously on it. Common success strategies will be of very little help when you are trying to achieve something different. Suit yourself not the means of the world.