Catalyst: Malcolm Gladwell

I recently got to attend Catalyst.  It was an incredible leadership conference that truly impacted my life.  Over the next few days, I’m going to be posting my notes.

Session 2:  Malcolm Gladwell

David and Goliath

- 1100 BC

- Israel is in its infancy 

- Great enemy:  Philistines in the coastal plains (near modern day Tel Aviv)

- Philistines march up the valley of Elah

- The way this story has been told in popular culture has missed the entire point of this story.

Culture says:

- David was an “underdog”

- A completely unexpected victory

- A win that shouldn’t have happened

Why we underestimate David

- “All He had was a sling”

- Reality:  this was not a child’s toy

- The sling was one of the deadliest weapon in the ancient world

- Stones in the valley of Elah are barium sulfate.  They are twice the density of a normal stone.

- Comparable to a .45 caliber handgun

- Slingers were capable of killing birds in flight

- In the ancient world, slingers were routinely devastating in battle against other warriors.

Goliath said:  "Come to me.“

- His whole strategy is hand-to-hand combat

- That was the convention

- David ignored the convention and used a devastating weapon on Goliath, the "sitting duck”

Goliath  = lumbering giant under false assumptions

David = nimble young man with superior technology who is filled with the spirit of The Lord.

David was not the underdog.

- The Lord does not see what we see.  The Lord looks at the heart.  (verse)


David and Goliath

- We underestimate David

- We misunderstand Goliath

- He was lead into the valley by a guide

- There is a specific mention of how slowly Goliath moves

- (Your enemy is not as bad as you think he is.)

- He was oblivious to the fact that David had come with a different weapon

- He made a dumb statement, “Why come to me with sticks?”

- Many people believe that Goliath might have been suffering with 

- Akromeglia (endochronoligists)

- Tumor on brain

- Can impair the optic nerve

- Could cause double vision

- The very thing that made the giant intimidating was the source of his greatest weakness.

- Giants aren’t always what they seem

- Someone with nimble feet, armed with superior technology, and filled with the Spirit of The Lord is NOT an underdog.

- Philistines great strategy:  intimidation

- All David had to do to win was ENGAGE


- David’s journey began with his weakness.

- He was unable to fight the normal way.

- Understanding your own weakness can be the foundation of innovation.

- Your obstacles and moments of weakness are the opportunities for greatest learning.

- When successful explain their journey, they always begin by talking about their obstacles. 

- David is marked by his refusal to be passive.

- He is outmatched.  He refuses to let that define him

- He is the only one who correctly understands the strength his faith gives him.

- Be forgiving of those who fail.

Aaron is the pastor of Spring of Life, a new church in Portland, Oregon. He's the owner of Amplify Creative.