Playing like David — and Goliath

Am I the only one that thinks 71.5% is a low success rate for someone 10x more powerful? – Matt Langdon

A 70% chance of winning was a low return for such an overwhelming power
imbalance.  Don't ever take your situational advantage for granted!
   – EHD


A number of reader comments on Our Inner Goliath, excerpted above and below, lead in to a discussion of the archetypal David.

Armies with 1/10 of the fight power won almost 30% of the time!  Actually good odds
for the underdog. Pure strength is not sufficient.
  Chrysula Winegar

Doesn't every individual have a David side — and a Goliath side? Science Teacher Mommy

New York David Goliath
Source:  Zohar Lazar, The New Yorker

Just as we sometimes have a Goliath-like advantage, there are times when we have the firepower of David.  And yet we prevail, as did the girls' basketball team referred to in Gladwell's article How David Beats Goliath, 28.5% of the time.

Political scientist Ivan Arreguin-Toth, cited by Gladwell, further states, “when the underdogs recognized they were outmatched, and adopted an unconventional strategy, their winning percentage went from 28.5% to 63.6%.  They win“, Arreguín-Toft concluded, “even when everything we think we know about power says they shouldn’t.

Gladwell wondered, as do I — why?  Why such an unpredictable outcome?

In David's case, he was sent by God to defend his people.  For Eunice Shriver, she was motivated by love.  In both instances, there was a wellspring of some intangible.  While it would be nearly impossible to quantify, as most really important things are, it would seem we succeed against lopsided odds when we believe or care about something larger than ourselves.

We play big, when we believe big.

What if when we have the advantage of Goliath, we played like David?
Or when we have David-like resources, we tap into our inner Goliath?

We're never all David, or all Goliath.
Better said, we don't have to be.
Wouldn't we rather always be a bit of both?

Our Inner Goliath

If I were to ask, “Who do you most relate to — David or Goliath?”, most of us would answer, “David”.  And that's a good thing.

But before we go in-depth (in another post) on the David archetype, let's consider for a moment that we might want to — and can — tap into our inner Goliath as well.

In Malcolm Gladwell's May 2009 article How David Beats Goliath, he cites political scientist Ivan Arreguin-Toft who has analyzed every war fought between strong and weak combatants over the past 200 years.  “The Goliaths, those in which the stronger side was at least 10x more powerful, in terms of armed might and population”, he found, “won in 71.5% per cent of the cases.”

New York David Goliath

You may be thinking — I like those odds, but when am I ever in a situation where I am 10x more powerful than my opponent?

More often than we believe.

Whether making something happen for ourselves, our family, business, or community — power comes when we play to our strengths.  In war, strength is defined as “armed might and population”.  In tacking life's challenges, strength(s), according to Dr. Laura Morgan Roberts, can be defined as:

1.    Our innate talents.
2.    The competencies we've developed;
3.    What we believe (our principles);
4.    Our identities (gender, race, ethnicity, religion).

What are your strengths?

Are they so much a part of who you are you don't recognize them?

Once you identify them, will you own them?

If we really believed that the odds of success were in our favor 7 out of 10 times, as did Goliath, how much more would we take on?

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