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December 17, 2018

Is Disadvantage Really a Setback?

While reading David & Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell, kick started a train of thoughts and reflections. Is advantage a disadvantage and conversely, a disadvantage actually a welcome advantage? As the subtitle clearly mentions, Gladwell’s book is all about the underdogs, misfits and the art of battling giants. The book is an economic delight.

Gladwell is not just painting stories in the thin air. Whatever he wrote is backed by plausible research and analysis. Plus, there are graphs. Though I am not much of a mathematics person, if I see a graph, my subconscious mind screams, “it’s irrefutable, believe it”

Nonetheless, I do have solid evidence, sufficient enough to satiate my brain, that disadvantage has been taking blame all this while for the sheer lack of thinking and creativity. If I reflect back upon my life, I can now pick out many instances on how what I assumed as disadvantage worked out so well for me and even pushed me ahead in my life!

Being a pitiable science student at school, venturing in the field of law, economics and commerce in college looked like an overambitious step that would lead to failure. It was apparent that I am stepping inside a pool full of sharks with the only protective gear as my faith in the impossible. Yet, this very disadvantage turned out to be the only solution to success. After breaking my head over organic chemistry and nuances of entropy, the language used in the law books were actually a piece of cake and I had the advantage of being an avid reader.

Obviously, I was slow in comparison to my peer group which was crystal clear at the examination halls. When they were busy scrawling all over the paper and asking extra sheets, I was trying to find out which all questions I can manage to answer which meant no additional papers.

Amidst my disadvantage, I figured out two facts. First, those who know everything knows so much that they are in race to write it all. This meant their papers are going to be shabby. Second, I have a killer handwriting. My paper and handwriting is going to sweep into the subconscious part of the examiner.  I used the amble time writing neatly and underlining headings in my answer sheets. I hold on to my strategy during my graduation, post-graduation and professional course. I shocked those who feared I would flunk in my board examination.

What is felt as a disadvantage is actually a blessing in disguise. It is all about how you perceive the milieu and how you respond. It is not a disadvantage that you don’t speak multiple languages. Even if ‘they’ make you feel as if you are in a disadvantage. You can be privy to many discussions just because ‘they’ think that you don’t speak their vernacular language.

The best exercise to do when you are in a disadvantages position is to think of why that situation is actually beneficial for you and jot down in a note pad, “10 reasons why this situation is beneficial for me now?” Reflect. Observe. Create. Unlock your creativity.

Back to the David & Goliath, if you are a parent worrying about which school to send your kids to, you should read the book or at least the relevant chapter. To pique your interest, it is not actually all that ideal to send your child to the best school in the country. Harvard is not always the answer. If you are someone who is slogging your life to make that extra dough for the next generation, you should read the chapter which talks about the real impact of privilege. More the money you make, the less perfect parent you will turn out to be. This is not about being against making money. Statistically speaking, making more than Rs. 3-4 lakhs per month is a road to perdition.

There is, of course, more to this book but that’s for you to find out.

All I want to do is leave behind a lasting thought, i.e., ‘Weak is Strong.’

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