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 lived one of those great stories. Giving insight into the mindset that creates such leadership, he once made 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, relationship 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 breaking our kids’ hearts, 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. Here’s how.To live is to make mistakes, but to prosper is to have learned from them.
Learn from the past.
According to Henry C. Link, “While one person hesitates because he feels inferior, the other is busy making mistakes and becoming superior.” To live is to make mistakes, but to prosper is to have learned from them. Each step in that process leads us toward becoming the type of men 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, as 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 passionate effort is what separates the masses.
Knowledge is power. And 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. I can’t emphasize it more when I say: Use it. Learn in great detail about the things that interest you, the things that frighten you, and the things you wish to be. Be obsessive in your learning. It’ll pay dividends for the rest of your life.
Adjust your attitude.
The surest way to crushing defeat is a bad attitude. It’s OK 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 the attitude that 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.
No man is an island. Heartache and troubles are going to find all of us. Deep faith puts it all in greater perspective. I believe we should trust in God’s game plan and stay true to it. Just as Coach John Wooden gained the trust of his players and guided them to 10 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.
Sound off: Share a story in the comments about a time you overcame something against all odds.
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What do you think it takes to win something?”