The image of a bully being knocked out by the skinniest kid on the playground is appealing to most people. We silently root for the underdog having their day and coming up the winner.
The reason we find this so compelling is that the odds are stacked against a lesser opponent. The likelihood of them winning is so small because they are out of their league. The rags to riches, zero to hero stories we love to hear, give us hope and encouragement to compete and win.
Punching above your weight, taking on opponents bigger than yourself, takes guts, grit and wisdom. The analogy works well in sports, of course, but also in business and our daily lives.
In the 1960s, my uncle was a racing driver that took on the large factory racing fraternity. In the day, he built a racing car with stiffened suspension on the lefthand side. Most of the racetracks followed in a clockwise direction, meaning there are more righthand corners than left. For a few seasons, he beat out all the factory racing teams leaving them red-faced with embarrassment.
What is always evident in the context of the underdog coming out as the winner, is a maverick willing to make a ruckus. Not taking the status quo as gospel, they love challenging conventional thinking. Their default status is one of curiosity with a can-do attitude to life. Having the chutzpah, and faith in their abilities gives them the courage needed to tackle difficult tasks. They don’t shy away from hard work or a challenge, to them the joy lies in competing above their weight category.
There is an element of “fake it ‘till you make it” in the concept of punching above your weight. But it doesn’t take away from the tenacity and courage needed to carry out a winning feat. Having the gall to approach a ‘contest’ with the view that you have a right to be at the table, puts you up for possible ridicule. You are betting on your abilities being superior to that of well-heeled, deep-pocketed competitors.
Being a small fish in a big pond doesn’t have to mean you are out of your depth, that you stand no chance. The truth is we can compete and win if we chose our battles. Being smaller can often mean you are overlooked and undermined to be a threat to the larger players. By playing the game at a higher level, behaving like the leader and challenging conventional thinking, you can catch the competition napping.
Having a strategic plan of execution gives you the flexibility to change direction to capitalise on an opportunity. It’s only when we have set our minds to critically question what is and question why that we can forge a new path. Choosing to compete when you are not seen as the sure bet, will help you stretch your abilities and not become complacent with your standing.
Having the courage to compete, even when you are not expected to win, you’re held in high regard for the company you keep.
Have an awesome weekend and please be generous! 😄
As always, thanks for reading 🙏
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