The underdog mentality is a powerful tool when combined with skill and a spirit determined to lead against tough odds. The greatest moments in sports are filled with underdog stories. Coach Jim Valvano and his 1983 N.C. State Wolfpack were one of those great stories. Giving insight into the mind-set that creates such leadership, he once gave this amazing statement: “If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.”
As men and parents in this fast-changing world, we often find ourselves pitted against the odds. Issues of financial stress, marital problems, family relational difficulty or issues of split family drama are some ways we can find ourselves leading from behind. These are the moments we can either get blown out by the opposition, which leads to things like bankruptcy and divorce or we can regroup and come out fighting in the second half. We still might lose, but we are going to throw everything we have at it before that comes. One of the greatest coaches in sports history was Coach John Wooden of UCLA. His record of achievement is legendary. He said this regarding success: “It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.”
Men have within our DNA a deep desire to succeed at whatever we are pursuing. Usually when things are going badly, we have projected those desires on the wrong targets. The following tips will help refocus our pursuits, harness the power of the underdog mentality, and win against the odds.
Learn from the Past
“While one person hesitates because he feels inferior, the other is busy making mistakes and becoming superior.” – Henry C. Link. To live is to make mistakes, but to prosper is to have learned from them. Each step in that process leads us towards the type of man we wish we could be. Great leaders understand first and foremost what not to do because of their past experiences.
Overcome with Effort
I’ve been a drummer since I was 10-years-old. I’m pretty good. But I learned by the time I was a cocky young buck in high school, no matter how good you think you are, somebody is always going to be better – unless you’re Michael Jordan playing basketball. I haven’t seen that topped yet. But it will happen. Skill is important, but effort is what separates the masses, more importantly, passionate effort.
Knowledge is Power
We have at our fingertips the power to harness more knowledge than all the computing power it took to land human beings on the moon. It can’t be emphasized more when I say: Use it. Learn in great detail the things that interest you, the things that frighten you, and the things you wish to be. Be obsessive in your learning. It will keep paying dividends the remainder of your life.
Attitude is Everything
The surest way to crushing defeat is a bad attitude. It’s okay to vent off some anger or to mope a little bit after disappointment, but we cannot allow those negative feelings to engulf us. We all know those people. Some of us are those people. It’s a choice, not a fate. Break out of that trap and start fresh with an attitude of anything is possible if we just try. Losing is not the end of the world. Sometimes it’s just God’s method of molding us for later victory. My dad used to tell me when I would get down to go back to the basics: Wake up, put your pants on, make sure you eat, and go out and try again.
Put Your Trust in Faith
No man is an island. Heartache and troubles are going to find all of us. Deep faith puts it all in greater perspective. Trust in His game plan and stay true to it. Just as Coach John Wooden gained the trust of his players and guided them to ten national championships, God is molding us each and every day to become his champions. I know for many men this is a sore subject. I realize faith is different for us all. But most of us can agree on one thing: We can’t do it alone. We need help. Where other men will eventually always let you down, God never will.
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your family tonight for a pep talk about the future direction of the family. Set clear goals and develop a spirit of family unity.