Championing the little guy. Saying no to the man. Battling against the system. The underdog is classified as ‘a person in adversity or in a position of inferiority,’ and during these politically hardened, socially unjust, divisive times, more of us, especially in the creative industries, are putting ourselves in this category. Worry not however, as being an underdog might just be one of the best things you can be. Here’s why…
You Don’t Have to Play By the Rules – You Have Nothing to Lose
When Richard Branson left school, his headmaster told him that he would either go to prison or become a millionaire. Far be it from us to say, but most successful business leaders over time have generally started as the underdogs, and have also generally gone against the status-quo wherever possible. Setting up Virgin Records in 1972, Branson went on to start Virgin Atlantic and challenge British Airways at their coveted transatlantic route a mere decade later – he wouldn’t have got there doing everything by the rules and not telling the big men at the top to sod off every so often.
Richard Branson did have an advantage, however, and that’s a clear brand position. At the time, they were everything British Airways weren’t – challenging, adventurous, forward thinking and modern. Branson and the people at Virgin played on this, using everything they had to reiterate this idea and establish themselves a clear position in the industries in which they were in. The underdog does this better than anyone else, and because they don’t have anything to lose, they position themselves in a place many would consider unsafe.
Understanding Who You Are
The underdogs have a vision and a reason for being. They hustle to get things done, but perhaps more importantly, they understand who they are, what they’re doing and how they’re going to get to where they want to be. It’s important to keep growing and evolving who you are with a knowledge that it’s not yet the best you can be. Focus gives the underdog the edge, and is one reason that constantly assessing who you are and who you want to be works at keeping this alive.
It is often said that all brands know what they offer and how they offer it – whether that be a service or a product – but not all brands know why they offer it. The why is the differentiator between you and everyone else, not promoting or selling someone a product and telling them it’s great, giving them a greater understand of the raison d’etre behind its creation.
Focussing on the Untold Story
Our everyday routine is predictable by nature, and most people’s stories revolve around similar themes, albeit with deviations, that we can all recognise. The underdog looks outside of these themes, finding value in telling an untold story and bringing a voice to people who don’t normally get heard. You can notice this spirit in almost any recent startup, and it’s a spirit that is showcased across the
Challenging both yourself and other people is vital to keeping the underdog spirit alive. Surround yourself with people that get it, but people who are going to question you, push you and challenge you to keep going and do better. Part of the process is to always ask question and to ask whether each path you go down is the right one. There’s no such thing as getting it wrong or no time too late to change your mind. Remember,
Your Attitude to Gratitude
Last but not least (in fact, this is maybe one of the most important things I’ve written down in this article), your attitude to gratitude will be a huge factor in determining in how you’re likely to progress in your chosen path. The underdog never assumes or expects, and they certainly don’t forget who has helped them
And now how not to lose it…
New work, side projects, new connections and new ambitions are the best ways to keep the underdog spirit alive. Keep taking inspiration from everyone out there and build a community around you that supports you but you can also get something from – this means there will always be people around you to keep you grounded and humble and enough people to remind you that you haven’t quite ‘made it.’ Just put the passion you’ve got for what you do into your client work. The creativity will improve, your clients will be happier and you’ll appear more genuine as a result. Being the underdog fuels progress.
What keeps you motivated? What inspires you? Let us know on Twitter