The conventional army loses if it does not win. The guerrilla wins if he does not lose. – Henry Kissinger
I was browsing through the on-demand film catalogue when I spotted Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot again.
This film, in case you don’t know, is based on the life of John Callahan, who became a quadriplegic after a car accident.
He went on to become a cartoonist, creating aggressive and controversial material and a whole new career for himself – after an incident that might have led many others to conclude there was nothing more they could do with their lives.
Malcolm Gladwell, in his book David & Goliath: Underdogs, misfits and the art of battling giants tells the story of David and Goliath again.
He argues that the story that most of us know probably doesn’t tell the whole story.
Goliath was big, yes. He was armoured and armed and could have killed anyone who came close enough to be struck with his weapon.
David, however, was an expert with a sling – not a toy but a real weapon – the artillery of the time.
Gladwell says that we think the fight was mismatched because Goliath was big and David was small.
The mistake we make is to view what is happening through a conventional lens – using a narrative that we think of as normal.
Big beats small, that’s obvious.
But, as Gladwell points out, this fight is actually the equivalent of a man with a sword facing another with a gun.
Who has the advantage then?
If the history of warfare has taught us one thing it is that superior forces can often be defeated by a smaller, less well equipped force if they choose to fight unconventionally.
There is an undeniable advantage to size, to being the biggest beast in the jungle, where you have no natural competitors.
Except the ones that are yet to come.
The point to take away, really, is not whether you are big or little, strong or weak, in full possession of your capacities or lacking in most of them.
You should try and remember to keep two things in mind.
If you are big, never become complacent.
That’s when you make a mistake and get beaten.
You have the advantage of size – use it.
If you are small, don’t give up.
You have advantages, in speed, agility and flexibility, that the big people just don’t have.
The side that wins, all too often, is the one that plays best with the hand it’s dealt.