Malcolm Gladwell has a new book coming out tomorrow titled David and Goliath: Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants. I’m a fan of Gladwell’s and believe his books, Outliers and Tipping Point are brilliant. I haven’t read this one yet and have seen that some of the reviews are mixed. But I have read the New Yorker article it’s based on (http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/05/11/090511fa_fact_gladwell) and it’s excellent.
Gladwell’s question is this: Why do underdogs statistically seem to win as as often as they do against the favorites? From the article, Gladwell points to two main areas: 1. The winning underdog doesn’t play the favorite’s game. 2. Relentless effort.
I’m fascinated why some people make it while others don’t. My career, at least my career as an editorial cartoonist, is statistically nearly impossible to break into. There are more NBA basketball players in this country than editorial cartoonists. But I made it. I’m not as talented as some of my friends in the profession. I also wasn’t given a “big break,” out of college. I didn’t step into a great cartooning job at a huge paper — I was a janitor. But I had several “little breaks” along the way. Each one of them led me to another “little break.” And each time, I vowed to outwork my competition. Yes, I had talent. But it took more than talent. I know a lot of talented people who’ve failed and quit.
So Gladwell’s book’s premise spoke to me. I didn’t follow the traditional path. I worked relentlessly.
I guess technically, I was an underdog.
Now, as my career is being reinvented and redefined, I’m back to being one again. What will it take for me to start over? What will it take for me not to be an underdog?
That’s why I’m thankful I live in Mississippi. I’m surrounded by success stories of artists, writers, musicians, athletes, business people and others who didn’t listen to conventional wisdom. They were underdogs, too. They ignored the “Mississippi is too ____________” brush people always tried to paint them with. They did things their way. They were relentless. And they succeeded.
I believe several of the guests on my radio show could qualify as examples in Malcolm Gladwell’s new book. They were underdogs, but they beat the odds — and won.
We are a state of Davids. We ignore the odds and work relentlessly to overcome obstacles thrown in our way. We knock Goliath down and reap the rewards.
And that gives me inspiration — and hope.