June 3, 2008

Underdog Champion

I love underdogs. They’re scrappy. There are thousands of examples. Less than a minute left, goalie pulled, you bang in the rebound. The Penguins did it last night and held on for dear life until they won game 5 in triple overtime.

Sport is so often used as the cliché because it’s so perfect. One of my favorite sayings – and I have many; the problem with teamwork is that not everyone on the team is working.

How many times have you been in a business situation where the solution is to cut spending? Sometimes, it’s cut people which is never fun.

But the underdog finds ways around money issues, staff shortages, bigger better financed competitors. Rarely do companies succeed by simply under-spending. However, there are plenty of companies – and sports teams – that have overspent to failure.

If you’re the underdog, get scrappy. If you’re the leader, don’t forget how you got there.

I love the story about Steven Bradbury. He is an Australian speed skater who had very little hope of doing much – but making the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City was a huge accomplishment.

Steven won his heat, got into the finals and was the long shot at best. Rounding the final lap of the 1,000 meter final, he was clearly in fifth place. It was over.

But he kept skating as hard as he could. Suddenly, disaster struck. The other four skaters fighting for the lead, smacked in to each other, slid into the boards and Bradbury won the gold medal.

Be scrappy and stay on your feet.


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