“When you’re an underdog, you’re forced to try things
you would never otherwise have attempted.”
~ Malcolm Gladwell
We have strengths and weaknesses. We have talents and shortcomings. We have dreams and realities. We initially approach life through child-like, wide-eyed wonder in anticipation of all the possibilities that lie ahead. We make decisions and choices based on selfish desires. As we continue to grow, our dreams become a little frayed around the edges. We start to succumb to our fears. We begin to make decisions for self-preservation instead of with reckless abandon. We learn to survive and trust that somewhere along the way, we will once again find happiness, fulfillment, and rediscover our passion.
In the meantime, we allow life to establish a routine. We slowly start to push away our personal wants and desires in favor of meeting others’ expectations. We work to enhance our strengths and avoid confronting our weaknesses. We rationalize our choices as being logical, safe, and stable. Our childhood aspirations are buried further down as we begin to believe they are unattainable until one day in talking to a friend, navigating a life crisis, reading a book, or even watching a movie, we are challenged.
An interesting question was posed to me the other day, someone asked, “why does everyone cheer for the underdog?” It is not a secret. Movie producers, authors, and musicians have made billions of dollars on telling the story of the underdog. Intrinsically, the story of the underdog offers hope and there are three lessons we all can learn from underdogs.
- Nothing to Lose: As people, we have a high threshold for pain. We stay in unhealthy relationships longer than we should. We tolerate bad behavior. We rationalize working in abusive environments. Underdogs accomplish the unthinkable because they get to a point where they have nothing to lose. It becomes a matter of survival. People want to be happy. They want to belong and make a difference. Those who are able to make an impact do so because the alternative becomes unimaginable. Dreams are achieved when we have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
- No Expectations: It is sometimes easy to cheer for the underdog because there are no expectations. If they are unable to succeed, we chalk it up to the fact that we never really believed it would happen in the first place. Underdogs use the lack of expectations to achieve the impossible. We allow fear to prevent us from pursuing our passion. We allow other peoples’ opinions to limit our potential. However, it is sometimes these same circumstances that can provide the most freedom. We can attempt what we thought was unattainable because we were never expected to succeed. Dreams are achieved when we create our own expectations and believe in ourselves.
- Never Settle: Life, in general, can tend to become routine. We have responsibilities that interfere with our hopes and desires, but as people we are constantly growing. We should never allow others to make us believe that we need to settle. Underdogs inspire us to believe the impossible could be possible. They push us to reach beyond the daily grind to grasp for a future we thought was out of reach. Underdogs have a way of transferring courage through their actions. Dreams are achieved when we choose to never settle.
We gravitate to true stories and heart-warming tales of people who overcome the odds to make a difference and change the world. The truth is that we love underdogs because they remind us of the potential we all have inside. They remind us that when we have nothing to lose, no expectations, and refuse to settle, we are left with an opportunity to realize our dreams and positively impact our reality.
“The fact of being an underdog changes people in ways that we often fail to appreciate. It opens doors and creates opportunities and enlightens and permits things that might otherwise have seemed unthinkable.” ~ Malcolm Gladwell