Succeed as the Underdog

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Most of my California-based colleagues are not going to be happy with me for bringing this up so soon, but the Golden State Warriors, the best regular season team in NBA history, lost the championship on Sunday to the Cleveland Cavaliers, a team no one thought had a chance to win. Most experts and fans alike anointed the Warriors as champions even before the series started and yet, even with everyone selling them short, the Cavs won.

Now, I could talk about how David defeated Goliath and how the underdog prevailed and blah blah blah, but this isn’t a sports blog. The point I want to make is that the terms “favorite” and “underdog” mean nothing. Just because a team is supposed to win, or everyone thinks they’re going to win, doesn’t mean they will and that can be applied to life as well. The only time something can’t happen is when you believe it can’t, and we only start to believe something is impossible when other people tell us it is. It’s a completely external belief that infiltrates our minds and takes root.

Don’t let someone else talk you down, only let them motivate you.


Around every corner in life, someone will be there to share their “wisdom” with you and try to talk you out of doing something, or try to make your dreams more “attainable”. Why do they do this? Either they’re stuck in the thought that because it hasn’t been done before, it can’t be done now, or they’re afraid to do what they really want and therefore want to see you fail or quit before you have the chance to fail. I don’t know why but risk-averse people tend to try and dissuade others from taking risks as well because without risks there is no progress.

This plays into what we discussed last week about following your dreams pretty nicely in that if you have a goal to reach – say, becoming a renowned chef – there are always going to be people, maybe even those you love most, who will tell you how risky and “not smart” it is to drop everything you’re doing and go to culinary school. Inevitably, the thesis of their arguments will be “Normal people don’t just become renowned chefs. The risks are so high plus you’re going to work super hard for little money. Why not just stay in school and get a regular job?”

This refrain is not uncommon and can be applied to almost any off-the-beaten-path job/activity out there. The crazy thing is, the person that says that is 100% right (didn’t think I was gonna say that did you?). It is risky and average people don’t become renowned chefs, but do you know why? Because they have convinced themselves it’s impossible. Every person who has had a dream and let it go, convinced themselves somewhere down the line that it was unattainable. That they weren’t extraordinary. That they only deserved something average. With a mindset like that, it’s no wonder they never reached the goals they set for themselves. Don’t let those who have failed to recognize their own greatness, diminish yours. Tune them out and grab whatever it is you want. Is it going to be easy? Hell no, but nothing worth doing is.


The truth is, we all have extraordinary abilities within us (maybe you’re an extraordinary note taker, or an incredible discoverer of gifs) and while it’s nice to have the people around you affirming this, the only affirmation you need is your own. Forget everyone else and forget what they’re saying, the only thing you need to succeed is the belief that you can.

There will be times when your confidence will waver, there always are, but it’s important to stay the course and trust the process, nothing happens overnight. You may not become the next famous TV chef, but being a successful chef is nothing to sneeze at, especially when everyone doubted you along the way. It’s very important to keep this in mind: being close to failure is not the same thing as having failed.

Life is full of challenges and there will always be someone out there who is better than you at something. Don’t let that deter you. You don’t have to be the best in the world to be successful, you just have to be the best version of yourself.

Until next time – get out there and pull off the upset

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When Arye isn't helping optimize your time, he is doing his part to ensure life is full of shenanigans.