Book Summary: David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell

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“He was an underdog and a misfit, and that gave him the freedom to try things no one else even dreamt of.”

What is an advantage in life? People often view an overabundance of resources and a lack of life trauma to be advantageous in the path to success. This is a logical line of thinking – no resources and an overwhelming number of hardships will most likely result in an individual who does not have the ability to function at a peak level. However, in our society what is often disguised as weakness can be a strength, and while having a certain amount of a resource can be a benefit – having too much of any resource can be disadvantageous.

The reason why I was drawn to this book is that I am fascinated with the idea that hardships exist simply to make you a stronger and more resilient individual. Though I do not seek hardships in my life, I am determined to be a better person as a result of the hardships I do face. I imagine the shins of Muay Thai fighter – Muay Thai fighters kick with their shins and when they first start doing this it hurts them like hell – but with practice the shins become the inflictors of pain rather than the receivers of it. By going through the pain, by going through the hardships, the shins of Muay Thai fighters develop an extraordinary toughness. Continue reading

How To Focus On The Right Things

One of my favorite Youtube videos is a compilation of Will Smith sharing his ideas on success. One of the clips is Will Smith sharing a story from his childhood. His father told him to build a very large brick wall; to Will this task seemed too grand to accomplish. However, over the course of the summer Will was able to build the brick wall. What was the lesson he learned? You don’t wake up one morning and build a brick wall, you consistently focus on laying each brick as perfectly as a brick can be laid, and eventually the brick wall builds itself. Continue reading

Book Review: Fresh Off The Boat by Eddie Huang

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“I promised that I would be the trouble in my life. I wouldn’t wait for people to pick on me or back me into a corner. Whether it was race, height, weight, or my personality that people didn’t like, it was now their fucking problem.”

The children of first generation immigrants have to conduct a cultural reconciliation and perform an additional identity search that others do not. I grew up without any other Indian people at school or in my neighborhood, and so it took me leaving my hometown to be exposed to aspects of my cultural heritage that I appreciated and desired to understand. Understanding yourself within the context of others during childhood is difficult enough without being asked to integrate a heritage that seems strange and irrelevant. A certain amount of self-assurance and maturity must be developed before one is able to look at different perspectives objectively, and decide what ideas, thoughts, and beliefs they’d like to integrate into their identity, regardless of the source of these principles. In a lot of ways, Eddie Huang’s “Fresh Off The Boat” is about his search and development of a life-approach that works for him as the child of first-generation immigrants, and the interesting people and situations along his path. Continue reading

Book Review: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

brief wondrous life

“But folks always underestimate what the promise of a lifetime of starvation, powerlessness, and humiliation can provoke in a young person’s character.”

Oscar is a hopeless romantic loser who couldn’t get laid if he was the last guy on earth. If you met him in real life you’d immediately try to forget him because acknowledging his existence is excessively depressing. But he’s the central character of this book so you root for him, you pity him, you get frustrated with him, and you try to understand him. And we learn about him by learning about his sister, his mother, his grandparents, and the family’s history under dictatorship in the Dominican Republic. We learn about the family’s hardships, their deep scars, their resilience, and the possible curse that they carry. As we learn more and more our hearts soften, and Oscar goes from receiving our pity, to receiving our encouragement, to receiving our admiration. Continue reading