"David and Goliath" by Malcolm Gladwell: Embracing The Underdog Mentality

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 926 |

Pages: 2|

5 min read

Published: Jul 15, 2020

Words: 926|Pages: 2|5 min read

Published: Jul 15, 2020

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. The Underdog's Triumph
  3. The Power of Embracing Weakness
  4. A Personal Transformation
  5. Conclusion
  6. References


The human tendency to seek validation, to conform to societal expectations, and to disguise our true selves under the guise of conformity is a pervasive phenomenon. In our pursuit of acceptance, we often find ourselves donning masks that obscure our authentic identities. Malcolm Gladwell's "David and Goliath" confronts this paradox by celebrating the underdog, challenging conventional notions of success, and urging us to embrace our unique strengths. In this essay, we will delve into the core themes of Gladwell's book, exploring the underdog mentality, the significance of facing adversity, and the transformative power of self-acceptance.

'Why Violent Video Games Shouldn't Be Banned'?

The Underdog's Triumph

"David and Goliath" revolves around the age-old story of David's improbable victory over the giant Goliath. This narrative serves as a metaphor for underdogs prevailing against seemingly insurmountable odds. An underdog, as defined within Gladwell's work, is someone who is conventionally expected to lose. Conversely, the individual anticipated to emerge victorious is deemed the top dog.

David's journey to defeating Goliath encapsulates the essence of the underdog narrative. At the outset, no one, including King Saul and the Israelites, placed their faith in David's ability to overcome the giant. It was a scenario where the outsider challenged the insider—a classic underdog tale. The giant, Goliath, taunted, criticized, and threatened David, but it did not deter him from stepping up to the challenge.

David's refusal to engage Goliath in close combat, where the odds were stacked against him, exemplifies the underdog mentality. Instead of succumbing to Goliath's expectations, David chose an unconventional approach, leveraging his unique skills as a shepherd. This act of defiance and innovation proved pivotal in his triumph. In the words of Gladwell, "David refused to engage Goliath in close quarters, where he would surely lose" (Gladwell 28). This refusal to adhere to the expected norms and his willingness to embrace his distinctive strengths defined David's victory.

The Power of Embracing Weakness

David's victory underscores an important lesson—that our greatest weaknesses can also be the source of our greatest strengths. This profound idea resonates with many individuals, including myself, who have experienced life as underdogs. Often, this status leads to negative consequences such as low self-esteem, feelings of inferiority, and a lack of motivation.

Gladwell's exploration of using one's weaknesses to identify strengths has had a profound impact on my life. Growing up as an underdog in a society plagued by corruption, I encountered numerous obstacles. My early education was tainted by communist influences, hindering my pursuit of success. Money became the measure by which individuals were judged, and, unfortunately, I was born into poverty. However, adversity shaped me into the person I am today. It taught me resilience and resourcefulness, allowing me to thrive despite limited resources.

Moreover, the support of my family provided both financial and emotional sustenance. Their unwavering belief in me encouraged me to persevere in the face of adversity. Gladwell's message of exploring our limitations, as well as those of our opponents, mirrors my journey. Recognizing our strengths and weaknesses equips us to confront challenges confidently.

A Personal Transformation

As an immigrant from Vietnam, I faced the daunting challenge of adapting to a new country with limited English proficiency. Communicating effectively felt like an insurmountable obstacle, leading to a loss of self-confidence. However, with the encouragement of my family, I transformed my disadvantage into motivation. I embarked on a journey to improve my English, and my enrollment at Mission College marked a turning point. My determination to overcome adversity allowed me to identify my strengths, leading to significant progress in my language skills.

Being an underdog instilled in me a unique perspective—one that emphasizes the importance of authenticity. It taught me that we should not strive to meet others' expectations or conform to their judgments. Our individuality is our strength, and we owe no one an explanation for being true to ourselves. The pursuit of other people's approval is a futile endeavor, and embracing our true selves is the key to genuine success.


In conclusion, Malcolm Gladwell's "David and Goliath" presents a powerful narrative that celebrates the triumph of underdogs. It challenges conventional notions of success and encourages us to embrace our unique strengths. The underdog mentality, as exemplified by David's victory over Goliath, teaches us that defying expectations and leveraging our distinctive abilities can lead to extraordinary achievements.

Get a custom paper now from our expert writers.

Gladwell's exploration of the transformative power of embracing our weaknesses resonates with individuals who have experienced life as underdogs. It reminds us that adversity can be a catalyst for personal growth and self-discovery. By being authentic and true to ourselves, we stand out from the crowd and tap into our innate potential. The underdog narrative serves as an enduring symbol of resilience, resourcefulness, and the limitless possibilities that arise when we dare to defy the odds.


  1. Gladwell, M. (2013). David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants. Little, Brown and Company.
  2. Heath, C., & Heath, D. (2013). Making underdogs better. Harvard Business Review, 91(10), 138-141.
  3. Grant, A. M. (2014). The unexpected pathways of underdogs. New York Times.
  4. Duckworth, A. L., Peterson, C., Matthews, M. D., & Kelly, D. R. (2007). Grit: perseverance and passion for long-term goals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92(6), 1087-1101.
  5. Downey, R. G., & Chang, E. (2019). The underdog effect: Reinforcement of the link between marital self-concepts and marital satisfaction. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 36(2), 468-490.
  6. Liu, W., & Chiang, J. T. J. (2020). Be the giant or the underdog? Effects of message framing and gender stereotype on consumer responses. Journal of Consumer Behaviour, 19(4), 435-449.
  7. Wong, L. P., & Kuan, G. (2018). Being a less-advantaged underdog: Effects of underdog-position stereotype on promotion-focused behaviours. Journal of Pacific Rim Psychology, 12, e6.
Image of Dr. Charlotte Jacobson
This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

“David And Goliath” By Malcolm Gladwell: Embracing the Underdog Mentality. (2020, July 14). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 26, 2024, from
““David And Goliath” By Malcolm Gladwell: Embracing the Underdog Mentality.” GradesFixer, 14 Jul. 2020,
“David And Goliath” By Malcolm Gladwell: Embracing the Underdog Mentality. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 26 May 2024].
“David And Goliath” By Malcolm Gladwell: Embracing the Underdog Mentality [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2020 Jul 14 [cited 2024 May 26]. Available from:
Keep in mind: This sample was shared by another student.
  • 450+ experts on 30 subjects ready to help
  • Custom essay delivered in as few as 3 hours
Write my essay

Still can’t find what you need?

Browse our vast selection of original essay samples, each expertly formatted and styled


Where do you want us to send this sample?

    By clicking “Continue”, you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy.


    Be careful. This essay is not unique

    This essay was donated by a student and is likely to have been used and submitted before

    Download this Sample

    Free samples may contain mistakes and not unique parts


    Sorry, we could not paraphrase this essay. Our professional writers can rewrite it and get you a unique paper.



    Please check your inbox.

    We can write you a custom essay that will follow your exact instructions and meet the deadlines. Let's fix your grades together!


    Get Your
    Personalized Essay in 3 Hours or Less!

    We can help you get a better grade and deliver your task on time!
    • Instructions Followed To The Letter
    • Deadlines Met At Every Stage
    • Unique And Plagiarism Free
    Order your paper now