Tag Archives: Malcolm Gladwell

Hidden Giants

According to the world-loved Tao Te Ching, when the times reach critical mass, leaders arise in response to the deep-felt heart-cries of the suffering masses for deliverance.

This assurance is repeated twice, first in Passage 18. “When countries degenerate into strife, anarchy sets in. / When danger peaks, however, heroes emerge and come forward.”

It appears again in Passage 78. “Like water, the sage takes the world’s suffering to heart, endures its hardships, / and responsive to the times, becomes the catalyst of collective action.

This is the underlying thought in the following rethinking of the David and Goliath scenario. The upcoming anthology, The BEST of WEST will include this excerpt from Rethinking Survival. It’s taken from the section called “We’re Never Alone: Gladwell’s Misfits and Giants in Perspective.”

globe

When Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath came out in October of 2013, I had to read it. The subject promised to be a perfect fit with the vision of Rethinking. After all, King David is my ideal: musician, psalmist, warrior and king in one.

It turns out this book is a perfect example of how sorely the Positive Paradigm of Change is needed. “We need a better guide for facing giants,” Gladwell wrote. I agree. Here it is.

As far as it goes, the book is a good read. What’s lacking is the Positive Paradigm to put David and Goliath in context. From this viewpoint, Goliath was stuck on the surface. Despite his physical size, he was ultimately powerless. David, on the other hand, was connected to center. That gave him the advantage.

Using this Einstein-inspired model of concentric circles linked in an infinite, two-directional loop, we can place the source of David’s strength as well as his strategies and his deadly slingshot.

Resting in the innermost hub of the Life Wheel associated with light was the source of little David’s confidence — the timeless God of Israel.

His strategies, however, belonged to the middle, dynamic level associated with energy.

His prowess as a straight-shooter depended on physical strength, visual acuity and years of experience. Those have their place on the outermost material surface associated with mass.

In other words, the levels of David’s life were coordinated. They were in synch. Unified.

If David had drawn a blank on any one of the three levels, he wouldn’t have succeed then. Nor can anyone succeed today. Vision that’s not backed by a good plan and technical competence is incomplete. Cunning strategies lacking equal competence to execute them are lop-sided. Without a direct connection with the creative center, all the physical resources in the world aren’t enough.

There are several reasons, however, why the story of David and Goliath isn’t the best model for coping with adversity today. For one, we’re at a very different point in history. This is end stage. Civilization was relatively young back then. Different times call for different responses.

Further, confronting a single foe face-to-face was one matter. The tangled mess of corporate-faced, alien-driven evil which little guys are up against now is a much different threat. Different dangers call for different protections.

Another point: Gladwell’s subtitle refers to underdogs and misfits. It’s not a good idea to romanticize misfits. Not all are creative geniuses. Timothy McVey and Charles Manson were also misfits. They too didn’t fit in with mainstream society, but with good cause.

It’s the telescoping mistake. Extremes on both sides of the bell-shaped median are lumped together and written off as “deviant.” But spiritual geniuses and murderous psychopaths don’t belong in the same category.

Further, not all giants are enemies of the people. There are corporate CEOs who treat their workers decently and genuinely serve the public. When I searched my memory banks for a good example, I thought back to Glenn Beck’s billionaire philanthropist friend. What was his name?!

It took me a couple days to find it. Strangely, he doesn’t get much media attention. (Why not is an interesting question!)

But Jon Huntsman, Sr. is living proof. A corporate giant can be as much a part of the solution as the underdogs. Sometimes even more.

A web search comes up with several sides to his story. He gained his wealth by climbing the corporate ladder of success. In 1974, Huntsman Container Corporation created the “clamshell” container for the McDonald’s Big Mac. It developed other popular products, including the first plastic plates and bowls. This led to the 1994 founding of the multi-billion dollar Huntsman Corporation. He continues to expand into new business ventures.

As a philanthropist, Huntsman has given away more than $1.2 billion to both domestic and international charities. His humanitarian aid includes help to the homeless, ill and under-privileged. He holds that the very rich should give not half, as Gates and Buffet say, but a full 80 percent of their wealth to worthy causes. It should be through voluntary choice, however. Not taxation. In this, he agrees with Thomas Paine’s Common Sense.

His goal is to give away everything before he dies. But this isn’t an easy task. He keeps making too much money.

On the personal side, Huntsman not only lost parents to cancer, but is himself a four-time cancer survivor. His response has been to turn adversity into opposite and equal good. The Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City accelerates the work of curing cancer through human genetics. It also focuses on providing humane care to cancer patients.

Huntsman has been married to his wife Karen for over fifty years. He’s the father of nine children. The eldest son, Jon Jr. is a public servant. He was the governor of Utah, and later an ambassador to China. (Small world.) The second son is a corporate executive who carries on his father’s business.

Come to find out, Jon Huntsman. Sr. is also an author. One of his books is Winners Never Cheat – Even in Difficult Times. Amazon’s editorial review calls him “one of the finest human beings, industrial leaders and philanthropists on the planet.” His book drills down on “ten timeless, universal values” for business and life. The review concludes that Huntsman’s work edifies, inspires and motivates all of us to model his common sense lessons.

Timeless? Universal? Common sense? I like it!

Moving on, Gladwell also says little guys need to redefine power. I’ve done that too. In Positive Paradigm context, true power comes from within. Goliath, who drew strength primarily from the physical plane, was puny compared to the force behind David’s sling.

Gladwell notes that a single smooth stone to center of Goliath’s head probably destroyed the pituitary gland. He quotes researchers who theorize that the giant had a glandular disorder which explains his huge size. This same pituitary disease would have caused eye problems. That’s probably why a slave had to lead him into battle. Presumably his vision was failing.

But from a holistic perspective, the same story has a deeper meaning. David’s single shot went straight to the third eye, the ajna center located in the center of the forehead. It correlates with the pineal gland, a close neighbor of the pituitary. In yoga anatomy, this center is associated with spiritual vision.

David’s projectile put out the giant’s lights. It was poetic justice for an enemy who was closed to inner truth. That was the giant’s weakness. It remains the weakness of bad guys today as well. A single shot is all it takes, when you know where to aim.

Here’s yet another point. David and Goliath has one take on the giants of the world. But there’s also another way to think about giants. The reverse, shadow side – the opposite side of the coin. Early on, for example, I was inspired by Awaken the Giant Within. I founded the +A Positive Action Press in response to Tony Robbins’ book. From a Positive Paradigm perspective, his words take on new meaning:

If we want to discover the unlimited possibilities within us, we must find a goal big enough and grand enough to challenge us to push beyond our limits and discover our true potential. . . The answer to our current energy challenges will lie in the imagination and resourcefulness of today’s physicists and engineers. And the resolution to our social crises, like the alarming spread of racial hate groups, homelessness, and hunger, can only be addressed with the inventiveness and compassion of dedicated individuals like you and me.

The threat of evil giants in the world serves to awaken the true giant that resides deep within each of us. That’s the blessing hidden in adversity. It’s the opportunity latent in Titanic Times. The Greek Titans, the giants sired by Kronos, survived his murderous envy and returned to claim their heritage.

Similarly, as Lao Tze assures us, there are surely sleeping giants are among us now.

It’s time for them to WAKE UP!

Are you a sleeping giant? Do you work or live with one? What will it take for you (or them) to wake up?

Rethinking Gladwell’s Tipping Point

globe

 The Call to Positive Action

 Malcolm Gladwell, author of David and Goliath, earlier wrote The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. In the language of Einstein’s atomic physics, it’s called critical mass. In the world of ideas, it’s the trigger point of a paradigm shift. Gladwell describes it as magic:

 The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire. . . A precisely targeted push can cause a fashion trend, the popularity of a new product, or a drop in the crime rate.

His book identifies the catalysts which precipitate a tipping point. Psychological studies are analyzed to name the key elements of social change. At the right time, a handful of people with the right idea and the right messaging can make huge waves. With three key ingredients in place, what seems to happen spontaneously, almost mysteriously, can be deliberately replicated.

Three special kinds of people are necessary to precipitate a paradigm shift. Gladwell profiles the personality types whose combined effort makes the difference. He calls them mavens, salesmen, and connectors.

Mavens are the experts who know their subject in-depth and in great detail. They delight in sharing their knowledge to help others. They have no agenda other than to be of service, so people trust their information. In this case, the information being shared is the perennial philosophy embodied in the Positive Paradigm. It radiates from the center of the wheel.

Salesmen have a knack for tapping into what the public wants. They’re keenly perceptive about human nature and are therefore persuasive in getting others to buy what they have for sale. Salesmen are in touch with the middle level of the wheel. They connect with human motivations to energize basic hopes (namely, for survival) and fears (of extinction).

Connectors take joy in building extended networks of acquaintances. They’re the matchmakers who introduce friends to other friends. They’re the doers who spin the wheel round at the surface of the rim. In this case, they have the ability to spread the Positive Paradigm message worldwide to everyone with the common sense to hear.

Put these three special kinds of people together and there’s magic in the making. The levels of creation can be linked and unified. A powerful idea presented persuasively to the public and carried around the globe by word-of-mouth can travel faster than a speeding bullet.

Rethinking Survival is the work of a maven. I’ve spent a lifetime refining these ideas. I’ve worked hard to express them in a simple, clear and hopefully entertaining way. I take delight in the possible good that could come from sharing them.

But, true to life, there’s always a down side. The lifestyle optimal for writing such a book disqualifies me from wearing the hats of a connector or a salesman. My strength in one context is a weakness in another. I’m a deeply private person. Knowing my limitations, I’m calling on the strengths of my readers to balance out my weak spots. I’m not independently wealthy. (Joke!) I have no support network of family, friends, agents and publicists. I need you to ACT as salesmen and connectors on behalf of the Positive Paradigm. Together, we can work miracles.

What Gladwell describes in terms of psychological studies also expressed in Chinese philosophy. Here’s the tipping point idea from Lao Tze’s perspective:

Passage 78

 Nothing under heaven is as soft,

receptive or pliant as water;

but when amassed,

nothing withstands

its tidal wave impact.

 As water penetrates and dissolves the hard,

erodes and absorbs the rigid,

those who yield and encompass their foes

prevail long after evil doers

have disappeared.

Like water, the sage absorbs the world’s suffering,

endures its hardships,

and responsive to the times,

becomes the catalyst

of collective action.

So it is that the low and high trade places,

and the forceful lose their influence;

this is known by many,

but practiced by few.

 This passage applies to promoting the Positive Paradigm idea in the following way. A solitary writer is like a single drop of water in the ocean. But an idea whose time has come, when spread by word-of-mouth and owned by the masses, can take on the force of a social tsunami.

I have no political clout or social standing. But I’ve allowed nothing to discourage me in my determination to be a catalyst of collective positive action. I’ve experienced my share of hardships. I identify with the world’s suffering. So I trust that, having done my best, it will be enough.

This book will survive by surfing the tidal waves of Titanic times. Because there is a mighty zeitgeist stirring the air. Its force is obliging everyone on the planet to make critical choices. Its power is driving us to take action.

It’s a question of which worldview will prevail. Everyone must choose. (Failing to choose consciously is also a choice.)

Do we cling to dysfunctional paradigms that have brought us to the brink of Titanic disaster? Or do we opt for Einstein’s new way of thinking? Do we choose to be, or not to be? To survive or perish from the face of the earth, that is the question.

So if you’re ready and willing to tip the balance in favor of human survival, BE PART OF THE SOLUTION. SPREAD THE WORD. Urge everyone you know who stands to benefit from Rethinking Survival to read it and then act on it. Do so with passionate conviction. Now! Fill the all-important roles of salesmen and connectors.

And may the Force be with you and your friends, Now and into the New Year!

globe