What if starting with success, progress, or a head start was a burden?
The worst way to live your life is by having everything.
Living like an underdog is a different way to live your life.
Underdogs start from nothing. Underdogs are the forgotten ones. The ones who were told they would never succeed at anything. The people that were kicked to the street or told to “shove off, idiot.”
The people everybody underestimated. The ones who were looked down upon. The ones who were ignored when the opportunities came up. The ones who were even lied to or cheated out of their dreams. The ones who didn’t have a wallet full of one-hundred-dollar bills to depend on.
Give me an underdog every day of the freaking week. Here’s why.
Going against the odds is miraculous.
People who win all the time annoy the shit out of me. Why? Because nobody wins all the time and pretending you are is stupid.
You can live your life against the odds. You can choose the path that has boulders, scary dragons, witch doctors, and a line full of critics ready to hurl oranges at your face. (I recommend it.)
I have been an underdog for a long time. An illness of the mind ripped my world apart and left it on the floor in tiny pieces for me to find after another late night and resulting hangover.
Big tech companies told me to stop applying for jobs in their companies. Bad bosses in the corporate world of broken dreams told me I’d never amount to anything. Strangers told me to stop writing because I was “making a fool of myself.” Unemployment showed me the lie of job safety. Multiple recessions showed me how quick money could come in and leave by back pocket.
I should still be working in a call center on minimum wage, technically — according to the experts and the critics. But that didn’t happen. I defied the odds and let my actions show them the middle finger, followed by a hug. I became something from nothing.
When the odds are against you, you can just create your own miracle. You don’t need to wait for one.
A lack of privilege is a gift.
One day I came home from high school and asked my mother if I could have takeaway pizza for dinner. “Sorry Timothy, we can’t even afford $20 right now.” We had lost everything. Our family home was about to be taken away.
I didn’t know how to deal with the situation. Any chance of privilege or a head start was lost. I look back on those days as character-defining.
That lack of privilege forced me to learn entrepreneurship out of survival. But not the complicated version of entrepreneurship written about in best-selling books with a unicorn on the front.
I learned to muster up the guts to charge money for the work I did and the skills I’d developed. (Charging money is entrepreneurship and we’re all doing that already by taking a salary from one customer.)
If I hadn’t learned as a kid what it was like not to have money for a pizza that my friends at school could have whenever they wanted, I would have been completely blinded by privilege.
When you’re given everything, you learn nothing.
Underdogs control their effort.
You can simply outwork everybody else if you choose.
I’m not the best writer by a long shot. Other writers make me look pretty stupid. So all I can do is control my effort. That’s why I write two full days a week and publish more than ten articles a week. The effort you put into a goal has a lot to deal with whether you will achieve it.
Effort speaks louder than your excuses.
If you want more results, as an underdog, you can just drastically increase your effort. If you pitched three people an idea and they all rejected you, or ghosted you, then you could just pitch thirty people next time instead.
My secret life hack has always been effort. Effort can’t be taken away from you. The critics, internet trolls and imbecile leaders can never take away your effort — although they will try. Effort makes you unstoppable. The results that come from a dedication to effort can help you feel immense joy.
A process to harness your work ethic.
Your work effort might now be fine. It will be worthless without a process, though — and that process requires feedback.
How you do something is worth analyzing. For example, when I used to try and read books I’d get frustrated and throw a tantrum. I just couldn’t concentrate. I assumed I was stupid.
Once I could see that 5-year-old kid living inside my body, who was always frustrated, I could calm him down with some warm milk and a gentle hug. The frustration is a disguise for a lack of feedback. With the frustration identified through radical transparency, I could finally work on a reading habit. I started with short sprints of reading and then upped the time later on.
Eventually, I fell in love with reading all over again and could stay focused.
My writing process is similar. You don’t just sit down to write. There is a list of things you unconsciously do before you begin any task.
When I started reading about other people’s process I saw an unusual characteristics: the time you wake up, what you drink, what you eat, how you act, the exercise you choose to do, what you say to your family, what you watch on Youtube — they’re all part of your process. Find out what those things are that you do and write them down. Time them, too.
Once you know your process you can experiment with it. You can make minor tweaks and see if your results change.
By tweaking my process I went from writing one-hour per week to more than sixteen hours a week. You can do the same when you quit dismissing the small stuff and take note of what you do and how you do it.
Underdogs have a process because luck won’t help them win.
Resourcefulness is your only option.
What makes an underdog unstoppable is that they have to invent stuff out of thin air. They don’t have the resources handed to them inside the glovebox of a baby blue Lambo.
Different times in my life have tested me. When illness took over my mind and made me see everybody as the enemy, there wasn’t a magic god to step in front of me and show me the light. I had to harness the power of the underdog and get resourceful. I used free google searches to try and find the answers. They didn’t come quickly. Eventually the answers smacked me in my big nose.
I found a giant man on Youtube who told me the truth. He spoke words that revealed my excuses and made me uncomfortable. That discomfort led me to one huge idea: “I need professional help for this problem.”
I rang a government hotline and told them my problem. “Mam, my mind is broken. Where can I go to get it fixed?”
The nice lady gave me a few phone numbers; she even followed up with me. I saw two professionals. One was a woo-woo psychopath who read from fortune teller style cards and the other was a silent genius. I fired the first one and hired the second guy. We went through a process that involved me talking a lot. I told him the problems — oh, how many problems there were!
Then I told him my suggested solutions to the problems with a page of small steps. I told him I had already taken a few of these steps. The steps looked like this: attend a job interview I have no chance of getting; ride an elevator up 30 floors; jump on a plane from Melbourne to Sydney; attend a four-day event to meet new people; find a girl who would dare date my ugly arse.
After seeing this psychologist for many months, we came to the final session. It was time for him to provide his theory of relativity and change my life. Ready. Wait for it.
“Everything you just told me over our time together is interesting. I have some good news for you. You are actually quite smart because you know your problems already and have written down a plan. All you need to do is follow the plan and you’ll be rid of all the issues that live in your mind.”
Like what the hell. So basically, I had the answers the whole time and just needed to see them for myself. And you know what? He was right. I took his advice and followed my plan. That plan did exactly what it promised and I faced my fears and the harsh reality that perhaps the way I saw the world was created by me.
So if I could change how I see the world, I could change me.
This is what it looks like to be resourceful. You may not have the resources but don’t underestimate the free stuff — and most of all, don’t underestimate your resourceful mind to solve the hardest problems you’ve ever faced.
You can decide to try every avenue.
An underdog doesn’t give up easily. People at work often tell me that I’m unreasonable. I don’t take no for an answer. You can reject my phone call, ignore my SMS and never reply to my email. I’m like a dumb dog; I don’t hear no as an answer.
There are so many avenues to any goal we want in life. The biggest problem?
We give up too easily.
That’s why it pays to adopt the underdog mindset. What would happen if you tried every avenue? When you’ve got very little resources this strategy can really change the game. You only need one avenue to get what you want.
You can try and ask 300 people to buy your product. All it takes is one person to say yes for you to see possibility, and then to seek feedback that leads to the second customer.
Giving up too easily is for those who have everything already and don’t need an opportunity. If you need an opportunity, try all avenues.
You can treat people better than anyone else.
As an underdog, you are going to need people to go out of their way to help or support your goal.
I treated people badly for most of my life. They abandoned me and left me alone on an island of selfishness.
By treating people badly, I learned to treat people well. There are many people who will treat others like dirt, and if you go in the other direction, you get the chance to unlock yet another underdog trait.
Treating people well is an easy strategy to get more of what you want. People will be dying to work with you and get around you when you treat them with respect, kindness, love and care. It sounds cheesy as f**k but it works.
You Write the Story.
Everything I just told you is part of my underdog story. You have your own underdog story hiding inside of you. The coolest part is this: you write your story. You can choose to write your life’s story from the perspective of an underdog. The story of an underdog will make you unstoppable and experience immense joy in your life. Why?
Because an underdog is a selfless animal that goes after what they want and doesn’t let life or other humans hold them back. An underdog is a person who is resourceful and decides to write their own damn rules.
Become an underdog to change your life.