March 7, 2015

Big Fish/Small Pond?

Prior to my surrender to prison my prison consultant Justin Paperny suggested I read, Malcolm Gladwell’s book “David and Goliath“. I just had a chance to read it and I wanted to write about what I learned. The book addresses underdogs and how they use their underdog status to gain ultimate victory or success. Being a felon, you are necessarily placed in the underdog role.

The book analyzed various underdog situations and tried to explain how underdogs prevailed despite their perceived weaknesses.

One section of the book addresses how choosing the right environment can affect the outcome for an underdog or a normal individual. It dealt with selecting the right college for a bright student. My oldest son was an excellent Student and I, like many other parents, pushed for him to get in to the “best” school possible. I was under the belief that going to the best school possible would enhance his career opportunities. Turns out, I may have been wrong. Galdwell cites various examples of bright students who attend ivy league schools versus bright students who attend non-ivy league schools. Gladwell concludes that the majority of the bright students who attend non top-30 schools are actually more successful than the majority of students who attend ivy league schools. Why? The students have greater success against lesser competition at non-ivy league schools and develop more self confidence and esteem which transfers to positive results in the working world. A number of students at ivy-league schools develop less confidence by competing everyday against the very best and brightest students at the ivy-league campuses.

Gladwell confirms that sometimes it is better to be a bigger fish in a smaller pond (non-ivy school) than a smaller fish in a big pond (ivy league school). I believe that my college advice to my oldest son would have been different if I had read gladwell’s article when I was discussing colleges with him. Sometimes the best is not the best fit. Sometimes the underdog has to look for the smaller pond?

Ken Flaska

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