“It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” — Mark Twain
Okay, first of all, story time!
There was a gamer named MortY (fictional name). When he started out, people loved him as if he’s their hero, the hero they deserve. They loved him, applauded him, cherished every moment of his success, consoled him when things got tough for him. Everybody knew he is about to go places. So he grew and grew and become one of the best in the country, his team won many national LAN events, and he became the most popular gaming influencer. People had high hopes for him, people thought he is “the one”. So, MortY started feeling the burden of people’s impractical expectations. People were hoping that he would bring the cup home from International level events. But, MortY and his team failed to meet people’s unrealistic expectations at the big stage.
What did the people do? They booed him, mocked him and ridiculed him. Soon people who didn’t even know him started taunting him for his failure.
That’s the disadvantage of being the crowd’s favourite. You have to live up to other people expectations, people you don’t even know, people who don’t even care about you.
So, how to turn the odds and the crowd slightly into your favour? Be the Underdog.
People love underdogs.
When you’re starting out, you’re most likely an underdog. A small set of people love you, they love your story and the journey, deep down they want you to win, and even if you don’t, people still have a soft corner for you. They see themselves in you, and they can usually relate to you and the hardships you’re facing. When people don’t expect great things from you, you don’t have to carry the heavy weight of people’s expectations. So, if you feel like an underdog, you actually have a massive competitive advantage if you play your cards right.
“I like being the underdog so they don’t expect what’s going to happen. It pushes me to work harder and do the things I’m not doing better.” — Kawhi Leonard, professional NBA player.
Take a look at the history:
- How David beat Goliath despite of being so much smaller in size than his gigantic opponent Goliath.
- How Team India won the 1983 Cricket World Cup against the mighty Windies.
- How Leicester City won the 2015/16 English Premier League, when they had 5000-to-1 odds of winning the title at the start of the season.
Being an underdog is such a big advantage.
When you’re an underdog, you have the “nothing to lose, but everything to gain” mentality. While the top dogs have to worry about their reputation, you don’t care about it at all, and you certainly don’t give a “F” to what ‘MrSmartyPants69” said about you on social media.
And since the odds are stacked against you, you don’t have to play by the rules at all. You can experiment a lot without thinking too much.
Underdogs are underestimated. Learn to take advantage of this. Play on your strengths, stay humble, don’t take things for granted, look up in the face of adversity and push through it with your grit, fail fast and fail early, take the long shots, work on yourself, let the top dogs believe they’re the top dogs, outwork them, and then beat them.
“I'm very competitive by nature. And I like to be the underdog - It's the best way to win. To come from behind and win is a great feeling!” — Zac Efron
If you continue to do well, you will no longer be the Underdog, and people may no longer treat you the same. That's the problem with the crowd. They love you when you're an Underdog, but they start to hate you when you become the Top Dog. The same people who once had great sympathy and love for you sometimes turn into mad haters.
And when that happen, stay humble, keep your head down and keep working on your craft. It will take you a long way.
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