Quit Rooting For The Underdog!

By: PJ McClure

    Let’s start with a confession. I love a feel good story as much as anyone. Few things make me smile like seeing someone conquer impossible odds to make their dream come true.

The warm, fuzzy feeling we get as we lose ourselves in well crafted underdog stories is addictive, no doubt. But just like any other addiction, it can also cause massive delusions and destruction.

The idea of the underdog story is that someone latches onto a dream and everyone around them says, “You’ll never do it!” But the underdog, with grit and determination, applies insane amounts of work and dedication to prove them wrong.

Other people who are more naturally endowed to succeed where the underdog struggles are cast as the bad guys. The script has them sneer and ridicule our ‘hero’ while he spends himself in his cause.

Eventually the underdog gets through and lives the dream, even if only briefly, and we all applaud and say, “Wow, I really admire that effort and determination.”

You know the story, right? The classic example is Rudy. A little pipsqueak of a guy that dreamed of playing football at Notre Dame. He gutted it out and worked like a fiend for 5 years to finally play a couple of downs as chants of “Rudy, Rudy, Rudy!” echoed throughout movie theaters.

Here’s the dangerous part. By rooting for stories like Rudy, we over-value the struggle and under-value our natural strengths. We cheer Rudy because he worked and persevered at something that wasn’t his strength, but what could have happened if he worked just as hard at something that WAS his strength?

What about all the other people on the team who had a natural gift that worked as hard as Rudy? Where’s their movie? Or the guy that realized football wasn’t his gift and worked that hard and persevered to become a structural engineer? Is he getting his own mini-series?

I’m going to risk offense and kill a sacred cow right in front of you. That whole notion we sell to kids and ourselves about, “You can do anything if you only work hard enough,” you know the one I’m talking about? Well, it isn’t true and that isn’t bad news.

The real story is that we can all become our best selves if we will work hard enough. Ask yourself these questions.

What am I really good at?

In what areas do I possess the greatest strength?

How can I leverage and grow my strengths?

When we focus on our strengths we go from good to brilliant. We have greater confidence, make better decisions, and position ourselves to maximize our efforts. The question I typically get at this point is, “What about my weaknesses,” to which I say, “Yeah, what about them?”

We don’t act like our weaknesses do not exist, but we certainly don’t pour our personal energy into them. They can easily be strengthened by systems or other people. There is even the possibility that they won’t play a major role in your life at all once you stop obsessing about them. Ask yourself this…

What is really hard for me?

In what areas do I constantly struggle?

Are they relevant to my success?

What systems or people can I employ to take the stress away?

No one dislikes an underdog. However, as thinking people who really want the most out of life, can’t we do a better job of putting our energy into the highest payoff? I know we can. Identify your strengths and magnify them. Identify your weaknesses and deal with them. Then go live a life others marvel at… even if they don’t make a movie.

PJ 150x150 Adversity.... how it affects your life and your business

PJ McClure helps aspiring entrepreneurs to multi-million dollar business owners destroy roadblocks and seize opportunities to achieve their ideal vision of success. He is an award-winning speaker and the best-selling author of Flip the SWITCH: How to Turn On and Turn Up Your Mindset . You can download a copy of Flip the SWITCH for Free by clicking here.