Changing the rules: David, Goliath, and Malcolm

David Goliath Mormon
David Goliath Mormon (Photo credit: More Good Foundation)

Truth be told, I’ve been struggling a bit lately, trying to make sense of all the business and professional projects I’ve gotten myself involved in. Now, don’t get me wrong — I’m really enjoying the stuff on my plate: working with some great business clients, exploring “personal branding” attributes through my career coaching company, figuring out the keys to effective networking, getting positive traction on “detox research”, and generally enjoying my days. So what could be wrong with all that?

It’s that nagging feeling that I STILL haven’t quite got the mix right, haven’t still figured out WHY I’m doing the things I’m doing. I KNOW they are the things I should be doing, but I have been struggling a bit with the WHY… until, that is, I stumbled across this gem: Malcolm Gladwell’s recent take on David and Goliath in a TEDtalk (15 minutes), where he re-frames the famous story as an innovator vs. a traditionalist, as a rule-changer (David) vs. a rule-follower (Goliath).

That language crystallized my own understanding of what I’m all about and the “common theme” I promote in all I do. Sure, its about facilitating change and transformation (hence my transform/21 packaging), but it’s much deeper — and simpler — than that. I believe that most of us are trying to “win at life” with an outdated, or just simply wrong, set of operating rules. And so we struggle, and we get frustrated, and we get worn out. Turning the hamster wheel ever faster (“Do more with less! Work smarter, not harder!”) doesn’t change the fact its still a hamster wheel. Everybody can verbalize Einstein’s quote about insanity (doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results) but then we mostly go and do it over and over anyway.

So, take a few minutes and ponder Gladwell’s take on the classic story of “David and Goliath”, and the clues that he extracts from the story to help him stage his re-framing of the story. And ask yourself, what kind of clues exist in your own struggle that might help you start to re-frame your own story?

In your story, are you hearing phrases like: “that’s just the way things work”, and “we’ve always done it like that”? Those are dead giveaways that the “rules” you’re following might not really be the ones that can lead you to your own personal version of “success”. Might be time for some proactive re-framing of your own story….


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