• Kyle OConnor

When Giants Aren't Giants

Updated: Aug 3

I get it. Sometimes, it seems like there's no way to topple them.

The Opponent. The Competition. The Enemy. The Interview. The Promotion. Whatever it is, it's The Giant in the room and you are sure that you'll come up short, no matter what you try.

“Giants are not as strong and powerful as they seem. And sometimes the shepherd boy has a sling in his pocket.”

We recently had a sermon at church that talked about the well known story of David and Goliath. It was beautifully and intellectually told by South Bend City Church Lead Pastor, Jason Miller.

It made me think of a Ted Talk I heard a couple years ago where Malcolm Gladwell told a version of David and Goliath that I had never heard before, titled The Unheard Story of David and Goliath. Here's a link if you're interested.

It broke down how David may not have been as much of an underdog as we commonly believe. It also titled his book, David and Goliath - Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants, which is one of my favorite books of all time and has been recommended on this blog.

The book highlights stories of underdogs beating the odds. Even further, it illustrates how those underdogs may not have been underdogs at all, if viewed in the correct light.

I won't spoil the book for you, it's well worth the read, but it does bring to light an important point that many people (myself included) struggle with on a daily basis.

Giants are usually not all that gigantic. They can be toppled, you just have to look at the situation correctly. In modern times, the sling in the pocket is more often than not, your mindset.

Often times, being unconventional draws criticism or eye rolls. But our history books are filled with underdogs overcoming odds due to unconventional thinking. They'll be called crazy. They'll be told they are wasting their time. They'll be written off.

This isn't an excuse to try every wild angle or write off every unconventional idea under the narrative of 'People called David crazy!' and think it will work. Rather, it's a way to change your mindset from the negative side of things to the positive, or possible, side of things.

I do things at Alpha Dog a little differently. I started in my in-laws basement. I don't really require contracts on the client side. I let workers get their work done remotely and trust them when it comes to time put it in, getting tasks done and more. I even lean on platforms and software that most agencies laugh at. The majority agencies don't do any of these things and will quickly dismiss many of the practices I put in place.

I don't care. I'm trying to look at a completely different side of things. I trust that in a few years, these will be the correct decisions. In a decade, I want to be the one that was ahead of the curve and was able to topple so-called giants because of it.

I watch a show called Ballers on HBO. It's not a ground breaking show or anything but there was a quick scene Season 3 where Dwayne Johnson's character is stuck in traffic with his business partner, stressed. They are on their way to the biggest meetings of their lives, where they'll be the biggest underdogs in the room, trying to navigate through this meeting with giants to get what they are so desperately after.

As they are sitting in their vehicle, frustrated, his business partner asks him why it's such a big deal. He wants to know why he's so willing to walk into this situation where he seemingly has no chance to get his desired outcome.

Below is the following exchange.

Johnson: Did I ever tell you the story about my dad? My dad, Carl, was a loving man. Tough man. He worked in the mills in Bethlehem, PA. Provided a decent living, took care of us, supported us. Nothing lavish. So one day he gets a call into the big boss’s office. The first time he’s met him in 30 years.

Business Partner: So what’d the boss say?

Johnson: Nothing.

Business Partner: Nothing? What the f*** kind of story is this?

Johnson: See it’s not about what the boss said, it’s about what he didn’t say. He didn’t say anything interesting at all. So, after 30 years my dad finally got a chance to sit across from the guy who ran everything and you know what he saw?

Business Partner: What?

Johnson: Nothing. Nothing special. My dad realized in that moment that he could have been that guy behind that desk. He realized it too late. We’re all just a bunch of guys. Some of us believe that we can do anything. Some of us believe we can’t. So when you ask me why I want to do this, my answer is because I know what kind of guy I want to be.

I love that scene. It tells the story of a guy who saw what he wanted in life and said to himself, "I can do that. I can be The Giant."

And it tells the story of the same type of guy who sat back and thought, "That's a Giant that I can't topple."

Two guys. Same possible outcome.

One of them used the sling in his pocket.