Four Advantages of Being an Underdog
Small improvements are better than giving up, even when the odds are stacked against you.
David is literally a little guy in the battle against Goliath. Today we use ‘David and Goliath’ to describe situations where an underdog stands against the odds.
It’s exciting and terrifying to stand up when problems are big and perfect solutions are fantasies.
Four advantages of feeling like an underdog:
#1. An underdog has nothing to lose.
No one faults underdogs when they make small improvements, even if they don’t solve the whole problem. At least they tried.
Working to improve something is more noble than crying about how bad things are.
#2. An underdog explores novel solutions.
The establishment keeps using worn out strategies because the established way feels safe. People with experience work to preserve their position and save face.
An underdog is free to try new things. David defeated Goliath with a sling and a stone. It was a laughable strategy.
If you didn’t have position or title to protect, what might you try today?
#3. An underdog talks about elephants.
The status quo points fingers. An underdog invites the elephant to dance.
An underdog knows that when problems persist, current solutions aren’t working. Something different needs to be done.
Instead of pretending problems don’t exist or thinking things will magically improve, an underdog looks problems in the eye.
#4. An underdog doesn’t worry about perfection.
It’s a longshot when an underdog wins.
When the odds are stacked against you, embrace it. It’s easy to talk yourself into doing nothing. When you feel small, do what you can. Throw a rock and see what you hit.
Winning is a bonus when you’re an underdog. It’s all about getting in the game.
What small thing can you do today to make things better?
How might the voice of experience be holding you back?
Resource: The Upside of Being an Underdog (HBR)
Underdogs know they need to be on their A-game when they execute their strategy.
What small thing can you do today to make things better? Focus on just my highest priority for the next three hours.
When I was the newly named CFO of a company with massive debt that needed to be restructured, we felt like David versus the Wall Street bankers.
I gained strength from the mantra of the aerial Flying Wallendas. While on the tight rope you must only focus on getting to the other side. If you think about falling and failing you will!
I believe it was Mary Kay (of the cosmetics) who said, “If you think you can, you’re right. And if you think you can’t, you’re also right.” Too often, when you are top dog, you have already decided what you can (and can’t) do.
I love your choice of words: The underdog invites the elephant to dance. Beautiful. Thanks, Dan, for always pushing my thinking. You are a source of inspiration and wisdom.
Once the underdog has been right a few times, they stop being the underdog, and all the advantages get taken away.