23 April 2015
Disadvantages and Difficulties can be Desirable
Disadvantages or misconceptions can be better prophets for success than what we might consider to be the obvious advantage. David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell describes that bigger is not necessarily better. Malcolm Gladwell applies this principle among other extensive situations, such as the battlegrounds of Northern Ireland and Vietnam, successful and unsuccessful classrooms, cancer scientists and civil rights leaders. Were as many misconceptions and disadvantages strike young Jamal Malik in the film Slumdog Millionaire. Eighteen year old Jamal answers questions on the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, and flashbacks show how he got there. Jamal and his brother Salim became young thieves after their mother dies in order to survive the streets of Mumbai. Salim finds the life of crime agreeable, but Jamal scrapes by with small jobs until landing a spot on the game show and wins. Gladwell describes in David and Goliath the possibilities of advantages and disadvantages (and the disadvantages of advantages) he talks about the theory of desirable difficulty and the limits of power. Slumdog Millionaire applies to Gladwell’s described concepts, and shows how an inspirational underdog will eventually succeed.
Our biggest misconception is assumption; we automatically assume that bigger is always better. However “we misread them. We misinterpret them. Giants are not what we think they are. The same qualities that appear to give them strength are often the source of great weakness” (Gladwell 6). When David took the giant Goliath down with his sling everyone was stunned of the unlikely victory. David's nimbleness and skill with a slingshot was his advantage, and easily offset Goliath's size and lack of speed, which is Goliath’s disadvantage. "In reality, the very thing that gave the giant his size was also the source of his greatest weakness. There is an important lesson in that battle with all kinds of giants. The powerful and strong are not always what they seem” (Gladwell 14-15). The fact is, it wasn’t an unlikely victory after all, for David was a professional with his sling and chose to defeat the giant in an unconventional way. Jamal is arrested under the charges of cheating on the show. As the interrogators ask him about how he answered every question, Jamal tells a story of his life with his brother Salim and Latika He tells about their dangerous adventures, and how each question is related to one of his past experiences (Slumdog Millionaire).“Some of those memories are deeply disturbing. Jamal recounts terrible cruelties from his impoverished childhood: homelessness, torture, prostitution” (Claudia Puig). They misjudged Jamal because he lives in the filthy and overcrowded urban district of Mumbai that is inhabited by very poor people, and assumed he was a cheater.
There are many difficulties, but when a person has the persistence to move forward and over achieve, they make their difficulty desirable. “The idea of desirable difficulty suggests that not all difficulties are negative. Being a poor reader is a real obstacle, unless your David Boies and that obstacle turns you into an extraordinary listener, or unless you are Gary Cohn and that obstacle gives you the courage to take chances you would never otherwise have taken” (Gladwell 113). Gladwell specifies “for some small number of people, a parental loss appears to be, ultimately, a desirable difficulty again, not a large number. But there does seem to be a class of obstacles that for some people for whatever reason has an advantageous outcome” (Malcolm Gladwell on the Advantages of Disadvantages). The loss of a parent, and a challenging childhood, is a desirable difficulty that Emil Jay Freireich, Jamal and Salim have in common. It pushed Freireich in his research. He developed a treatment of childhood leukemia resulting in a cure rate of more...
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