In supporting clients with their career development, often times the focus is helping individuals overcome barriers such as language, education level, or age. However, classifying certain things as “barriers” as can be short sighted. Often the very things that we view as disadvantages can be advantages.
At the moment I’m only a few chapters into Malcolm
Gladwell’s new book, David and Goliath:
Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, where he examines the
stories of classic “underdogs” highlighting the role that the perceived
“barrier” played in the success of the individual. Typically the individual finds a way to change
the game in some way; to play by his/her own rules where the disadvantages are
actually a source of strength.
Malcolm notes that often individuals with barriers strive
relentlessly to become a small fish in a big pond. Although this would typically signify
success, all too often, you can’t get noticed with so many high achievers around
you. Instead, Malcolm notes that the
underdog becomes successful by becoming a big fish in a little pond. This can
take some “out of the box” thinking.
How can we help job seekers embrace their barriers? A
starting place would be to reframe negatives as positives and provide supports
that help clients build on these advantages. For example, language might be a
barrier, but being fluent in another language can be beneficial in many
different communities where clients or customers may also have language
Use the comment section to let us know how else you can
Interested in learning more about Malcolm Gladwell or his
book? Check out his recent TED Talk at http://www.ted.com/talks/malcolm_gladwell_the_unheard_story_of_david_and_goliath.html.