The first month after a baby’s birth is significant in Chinese families. It is often celebrated with a party as it concurrently marks the end of the mother’s confinement period. During this time the baby is also formally introduced for the first time. I like to introduce my son, David Tang.
Why David? In short, David is named after the biblical account of David and Goliath. For those not familiar with the story, it goes something like this:
Saul, the king of Israel and the Israelites are facing the Philistines near the Valley of Elah. Goliath, the champion of the Philistines, wearing full armor comes out every day for forty days and challenges the Israelites to send out a champion to decide the outcome in a single combat.
David heard challenge and volunteered to fight. Saul had his own military cloths put on David but he took them off. “I can’t walk in these, I’m not used to them.” he said. Instead he took five smooth stones to combat.
As Goliath moved in for the kill, David charged in as well while reaching for his stones and slung it at Goliath’s head. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the ground. He then grabbed Goliath’s sword and cut off his head with it.
David’s victory over Goliath is not an anomaly. If David had played by Goliath’s rules by wearing a heavy armour and a weapon he is not familiar with, David would have lost. Instead David acknowledges his weakness and focused on his strength.
Similar stories can be observed throughout history. In 1983, a 61 year old farmer named Cliff Young won a 875 kilometer endurance race by running throughout the night while other world-class athletes backed by large companies slept during the night.
Cliff Young won the race because he did not play by the rules or rather he changed the way the game is played with his naive view of the race. Since his surprising win, he changed the basis of competition forever. And the “Young-Suffle” has been adopted by other ultra-marathon runners, becoming the unspoken rule where winning the race requires runners to go all night and day, just like Cliff Young.
This is very important because we live in a highly competitive world. More importantly we live in a world where competition does not exists on the basis of a similar feature set. Competition is somewhat akin to asymmetric warfare where one competitor sees one basis of competition and another sees a completely different basis.
To compete in this ever-changing complex world, I hope the story of how David beat Goliath will serve as a lesson to David. Whatever challenges facing your future, never forget that the rules are always made by Goliaths. And when the world plays by Goliath’s rules, Goliath wins.