My View From The Country

Let’s Embrace Being David And Not Goliath

The art of successfully battling and beating giants often comes down to not fighting them on their terms.

My wife recently gave me the book “David and Goliath” by Malcolm Gladwell. I haven’t finished it, but I’m putting it in that category of a book you should read, unless you’re one of my competitors.

However, the book holds several lessons I think we should think about from an industry standpoint. The book’s beginning makes the point that we’ve always looked at the biblical story of David and Goliath in the wrong way. The conventional thinking is that David’s victory over Goliath isn’t really surprising because giants have their weaknesses.

In reality, the art of battling and beating giants often comes down to not fighting them on their terms; in the case of David and Goliath, not fighting them on their own ground and in the way they are accustomed to fighting.

For instance, giants like the Humane Society of the United States will continue to win victories over livestock production if we try to battle them on the basis of money and long public relation campaigns based on emotional pleas. The one thing you must avoid is fighting a defensive battle against a giant. Rather, you want to attack giants where they’re vulnerable, and where they’re not expecting it.

 

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As an industry, perhaps we underestimate what our greatest strength is, and how the opposition’s strength makes them vulnerable. Taking on our enemies where they are the strongest just doesn’t make sense if we really want to win.

One of the interesting points of the book is just how often an underdog decides to fight the established opponent on their own ground in their own way, despite it spelling certain defeat. Why did they do it? Mainly because it was easier and because they somehow felt it is the “right” way to win.

Ironically, the worst thing about our industry may be that we are pretty good at playing on our opponent’s ground. I think we’re good enough at playing their game, but we haven’t been desperate enough to adapt the harder strategies of being the underdog. We need to embrace the fact that we are David and not Goliath, and act like him.

 

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Discuss this Blog Entry 2

Doug (not verified)
on Dec 3, 2013

I would suggest David did fight Goliath on his turf he just used a weapon that fit his skills. The question is what is our sling shot? The battle is the fight for public perception. We seem to think that facts will win the battle. But the public perception is based on emotion not facts. I hate Budweiser. I won't allow it in my house but every time I see a Bud Clydesdale commercial I tear up and want to buy a case.

Doug (not verified)
on Dec 3, 2013

I just hate it when people comment and miss Troy's point. On re reading the article, I realize I missed the point. "Rather, you want to attack giants where they’re vulnerable, and where they’re not expecting it."
Attack their strength. We need to show our love for our cattle, our love for our families, the sadness we feel when we lose a good cow. We do what we do because of what we love. How it puts us closer to nature, how it puts us closer to God.

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What's My View From The Country?

As a fulltime rancher, opinion contributor Troy Marshall brings a unique perspective on how consumer and political trends affect livestock production.

Contributors

Troy Marshall

Troy Marshall is a multi-generational rancher who grew up in Wheatland, WY, and obtained an Equine Science/Animal Science degree from Colorado State University where he competed on both the livestock...

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