4 Little-Known Reasons to Love Being the Underdog

There comes a point in life when you get tired of looking up at all the successful champagne-drinking people at the top of your particular ladder of success, while you sit at the bottom taking warm swigs of PBR.

They say the playing field is level. But it’s not.
They say we have the same resources. But we don’t.
They think they understand. But they have no idea.

At least not anymore.

They may have understood at one point, but they don’t get it now. It’s not their fault really. They’ve spent so much time being top dogs that they’ve forgotten what being an underdog is like.

You’ve probably wished more than a few times that you could just make it already.

Haven’t you paid your dues? Isn’t it your time now?

UnderdogWell, the answer to those questions may be yes, but you better hope the answer is no. The view at the bottom is more interesting than it seems at first glance.

If you’re an underdog, in any field, at any level, you have a unique and time-sensitive perspective, take advantage of it.

Although the top dogs may one-up you on resources, connections, money, audience, and field experience, we still have some advantages. I say we shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the benefits of being at the bottom: they can be the very things we need to lift us to the top.

1.) The Freedom of Flexibility

When you’re just beginning, you may or may not have a good idea of where you want to end up eventually. You may want to be a successful business owner, but what that business is going to look, feel and smell like will depend on what you experience along the journey.

That gives us underdogs a ton of flexibility. For example, I started my online business building computers, doing computer consulting, blogging on the side, then changed to web development, then to niche sites and finally to blogging full time.

You’re able to make those kinds of hairpin turns when you’re an underdog. You don’t have any weight to carry and no one is really watching that closely anyway.

2.) The Ability to Bet The Company: Nothing to lose and everything to gain

Do you realize how dangerous finding yourself in a street brawl with someone who’s got nothing to lose is?

When you try anything for the first time, you don’t have a ton of equity invested in it yet. Whether it’s a business, project, craft, or muse, you usually start small.

Top dogs on the other hand have accumulated far more weight in terms of financial equity, responsibility, and risk. So you have the liberty of playing the game as if you have nothing to lose, while your escargot-eating competitors are busy debating the soundness of decisions in committees.

You fail fast, grow fast, and learn fast. You can take more risks (as long as they’re thoroughly calculated), be more innovative, and make decisions you probably wouldn’t make if you had the livelihood of 200 families on the line.

3.) Victories Are Sweeter

When you’re an underdog, you spend a lot of time failing. If you don’t fail, you expend lots of energy working on something and getting it noticed. Much more energy than a top dog would spend.

That means every victory for you is precious. The smallest step feels like a gigantic leap. Every advance in level is to be celebrated and should further excite you.

Think of how sad it will be when you take these small wins for granted? How sad will you be when you shrug off what would have been a major triumph for you as an underdog?

Eventually you’ll become so successful that only major wins give you the same amount of pleasure. Enjoy it while it lasts.

4.) The License to be Scrappy

As I’ve mentioned before, by their very nature, underdogs can’t believe in limitations or obstacles. If they did, they’d have lost before they started.

Underdogs don’t need to play by the rules. In fact, they’re better off if they don’t since someone else has already played by those rules.

We’re not under scrutiny and we don’t need to skirt by anyone’s opinions or authority. We have no achievements to live up to or expectations to meet.

We fight for what we want and we don’t give up. Even if that means we have to be scrappy in the process.

A Call to Arms For The Underdogs of The World

Being at a lower rung in the ladder isn’t so bad after all, as long as you take the time to look around and learn. You don’t know what lessons you may miss because of your eagerness to attain success.

The eventual satisfaction of truly earning something far outweighs the immediate satisfaction of somebody giving it to you. Even if you are paying top dollar for that magic secret or insider information, nothing beats standing over your creation and saying, “I made this.”

So rock on underdogs. Stay passionate, stay strong, and never stop fighting for what you want.

Oh, and when you make it, don’t make the mistake of counting out the underdogs behind you.

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About Liz Seda

Liz is a corporate dropout turned lifestyle designer and punchy personal development blogger. To find out more, go to her blog at A Life on Your Terms and download her member-only Life Lovers Guide to the Galaxy. You can also find her on twitter at @elizabethseda.

Comments

  1. Liz,

    Great perspective. Before I left the corporate world I worked for large companies (Alcoa, Rolls-Royce, Abbott Labs), and small companies (Southwest Windpower and Clipper Windpower). And there certainly is an edginess to smaller, more entrepreneurial firms that inspires creativity, innovation, and a certain degree of risk taking. There is a certain freedom in being hungry, and not being afraid to fail. Nice job.

    Chris

  2. I think being the underdog is a lot of fun! You are able to experiment more, be more creative. You learn a lot more because you are willing to make mistakes and can live with being wrong!
    In fact, holding on to the spirit of being an underdog is important to become and stay successful!

    • Yea! It’s also kind of like a beginners mind too. Sometimes you just want to be good at something already, but you have a unique perspective when you’re starting from zero. That shouldn’t be rushed either. When you think you know everything, you may be missing crucial pieces to the puzzle, or opportunities.

  3. Lower rungs? With my blog, my feet are still on the ground. But, as you mention, it’s easier to be fearless in the beginning. Success brings sameness (and that’s fine too) and newness brings innovation. For my part, it will be my voice and viewpoint that sets me apart. And I’m locked, cocked, and ready to rock!

  4. Liz,

    very inspiring post! For me point number 1 on flexibility is very important, so important for finding your own sweet spot.

  5. Hi Liz, Thanks for the new perspective for being the ‘underdog’ getting started in any project ain’t so boring after all! Yes victories ARE sweeter. This post gives a great message to enjoy the journey, while looking up to the top of the ladder and wanting to get there asap, we must take one step at a time,enjoying where we are.

    • You make a good point about ‘enjoying where we are,’ because we’re really making stories and experiences. You can’t have experience without experiences, and you cant have experiences without a few obstacles. How boring would it be if everything was easy. Enjoy the moment, if for no reason other than the fact you’re going to have a great success story to tell someone!

  6. Excellent, fresh perspective, Liz! It’s easy to throw yourself a pity party when you are just starting out and you have no real resources, audience, experience, etc. But there really are unique advantages to being the new kid on the block!

    I especially love (and personally relate to) number 1, the freedom of flexibility. I’m in the process right now of throwing a bunch of stuff at the wall to see what sticks. It’s a little disorganized and very eclectic, but at this stage of the game, who cares? I’m going to hone my formula to get it right! Thanks for the encouragement to work with what I’ve got!

    • You’re so right Courtney. It’s so easy to come up with all the reasons why you’re not given the chance to succeed. The deck may be stacked against you, but that may not necessarily be a bad thing at the start.

      Love your blog btw :).

  7. Excellent perspective and this brings to mind the age old saying (loosely translated) “don’t forget the people you meet on the way up, as you could possibly be meeting them again on the way back down!”
    Awareness of yourself is so important all of the time and that means taking in the feelings of everyone around you all of the time.
    EVERYONE was an underdog at some point!!

  8. That was great! Underdogs have ferocity on their side. They’re hungry. They simply want it more.

    There’s a reason people root for the underdog; the idea of succeeding against the odds is a powerful one. People relate to the underdog and want to see them achieve something remarkable. Because in a sense, they succeed through them.

    So I agree. Embrace being the underdog. Use it. Live it. And keep that mentality for as long you can.

    Because as long as you’re hungry, you’ll never want for motivation.

    Cheers!

    • Absolutely Trevor! It’s those stories where those who rise above obstacle after obstacle to finally succeed that inspires us.

      Why can’t we be the inspiration ourselves?

      Thanks for stopping by. I’m glad you liked it!

      • It’s not the dog in the fight….it’s the fight in the dog.

        I think most people give up to soon. When you fail it hurts and people don’t like to be hurt. It takes someone with a lot of resilience to keep failing and getting backup.