Chutzpah: No Guts. No Glory


I will either find a way or make one- Hannibal Barca.


Chutzpah is the quality of audacity, for good or for bad. The Yiddish word derives from the Hebrew word ḥutspâ (חֻצְפָּה), meaning “insolence” or “audacity”. The modern English usage of the word has taken on a broader meaning, having been popularized through vernacular use in film, literature, and television. The word is sometimes interpreted—particularly in business parlance—as meaning the amount of courage, mettle or ardor that an individual has.


Innovation occurs at the edge of chaos
Reading through the pages of Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath left me thoroughly impressed and inspired. My personal review of the book is that although the author didn’t give the impression that Outliers (a best seller from the same man who on his twitter handle refers to himself as a skinny Canadian) would have a part two, David and Goliath is indubitably a continuation of the story of underdogs, rebels and misfits. Our world is relic with the stories of those who defy the odds to create beauty that inspire the human existence. This post is about the Jewish equivalent of rebellion; Chutzpah. By the time you finish reading this, chances are that Warren Buffet would have increased his investment in Israel. This is because he broke his age long principle of not investing outside America by investing in Israel; a country that is always in war.  Ask him (Warren) and he will tell you that the chain of habit is difficult to break and it all begins with an act.


The odds in their favour
Israel is a country with a population of 7.1 million people having more successful start-ups registered on NASDAQ that the entire Asia and Europe combined.  The country is bounded by arch enemies; neighbours who seek to wipe them off the face of the earth. Few countries share the  geographical terrain like Israel and yet boast of robust agricultural capacity like it. Israel is an arid land; a respectable name for desert. While the world battle desert encroachment, it supplies food to the world.  For Bible students, it is logical to conclude that Israel wields such influence solely because of the Abrahamic covenant, True as it is, we now know that the secret for Israel’s buoyancy in the midst of hostility. We know that years of Semitic persecution (history records that more than eleven million Jews were systematically killed during the Nazi-Germany saga) have built the tenacity of these people to thrive against all odds. It is the reason why they don’t miss an order in Israel. Warren Buffet knows one or two things about Israel’s versatility. The solemnization of military and business explains why innovation is unbridled. It is why Intel; arguably one of the most innovative companies in the world located its research lab in Israel in spite of the perceived instability. Israel has the most friendly bankruptcy law in the world. If you fail as an entrepreneur, suicide doesn’t cross your mind because you can start again. The system makes it imperative to start again. An average Jew is considered brash and audacious. You can blame it on the informal nature of the society in which everybody including the leaders have nick names. Performance management in Israel’s military is unlike any in the world (even the US doesn’t come close).


What about David and Goliath?
Its best if you get a copy (if you haven’t) of Malcolm Gladwell’s treatise for a detailed account but for the purpose of this piece, I can’t help but tell you this. Everything you ever thought you knew about that story is damn right wrong. Do you know that Goliath suffered from a visual impediment which was contributory to his defeat? That was why he had an armour bearer whose job was to lead him into the battle arena. Soldiers don’t need an amour bearer in a close-up combat. There is even more. Do you know that in ancient warfare, artillery (David) was superior to infantry (Goliath) in close up combats? David was an exceptional Slinger who had recorded victories with similar beasts. Goliath’s heigth was more of a curse than it was a blessing. There is more to life than events will present to us if we don’t probe deeper.


The bigger they are, the harder they fall.
Success in life is not a zero sum game. Things hardly ever happen on the proverbial platter of gold. Pain is a proof of power and those who run away from adversity deny themselves the joy of victory. It is also true that God will not do for man what man should do for himself. So therefore, let us dare to defy the odds and embrace the price of our calling as we say to ourselves “I am the master of my fate, the captain of my soul”.


Image Credit : Google

Femi Oni

Femi’s overarching purpose is to inspire brands (individuals, organisations and nations) to unlock potentials to achieve sustainable growth and impact. His mission is to mentor 1000 brands in Africa and beyond by 2025.

Specialties and Interests: Business Model Design & Innovation, Visioning, Strategy Design & Execution, Project Management, Change Management, Strategic Branding, Operations Excellence, Process Modelling, Product Management, Productivity Management, Entrepreneurial Leadership (Startups), , Social Evangelism, Education, Sustainability, Cybernetics, Risk & Compliance.