Don’t ever let them see you coming

Good morning Tash Appreciators,

One of my pals coaches a rugby team and he was telling me about a match his team has tomorrow. It’s the under-18s West Cup final and kick off is at 2 pm at Whitecraigs rugby club in Glasgow. His team is at home but their opponents are league champions and arguably have the upper hand after winning the last encounter (albeit narrowly) earlier in the season. When asked what he thought of his team’s chances he said:

“We’re the underdogs; but definitely not written off.”

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We all find ourselves in situations where it is unlikely that we will achieve our goal or, to use the sporting term, where it is likely that we will “lose”. We all therefore have experience of being underdogs.

So what can we do in a situation where we are the underdog? I have three pieces of advice, two of which come from this week’s Tash, Al Pacino, and one of which comes from me. Unfortunately, Mr Pacino doesn’t rock a Tash in the movies from which I’ve pinched some quotes. However, he has on various other occasions, my favourite of which was in his portrayal of Serpico:

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My first tip for overcoming underdog status is that you have to have experienced losing – badly – at least once. No successful person (i.e. a “winner”) managed to achieve their goal at the first time of asking. In fact, most of them have had to hit rock bottom a few times before fulfilling their potential. Winning is easy, we could all do that. However, it’s only after losing that we can really appreciate winning, and we’ll work much harder to win after we’ve suffered a loss.

My second piece of advice is, after suffering a loss, to embrace your underdog status and make it appear that you are the “little guy”. For this tactic to work, you must be confident in the work you’ve done improve; you must be sure of your own ability; and you must have the mental toughness to perform better than your underdog status suggests:

“No matter how good you are, don’t ever let them see you coming. That’s the gaffe my friend. You gotta keep yourself small. Innocuous. Be the little guy… Look at me – underestimated from day one. You’d never think I was a master of the universe, now would ya?” (The Devil’s Advocate)

The third and final tip, is to band together with other underdogs and concentrating on taking small steps towards your ultimate goal. After all…

“You find out life’s this game of inches, so is football [and rugby]. Because in either game – life or football – the margin for error is so small.

I mean, one half step too late or too early and you don’t quite make it. One half second too slow, too fast and you don’t quite catch it.

The inches we need are everywhere around us. They’re in every break of the game, every minute, every second. On this team we fight for that inch. On this team we tear ourselves and everyone else around us to pieces for that inch. We claw with our fingernails for that inch. Because we know that when we add up all those inches, that’s gonna make the difference between winning and losing! Between living and dying!” (Any Given Sunday)

I’ll leave you all this week with one final Tash and one final comment. I’m adding the Tash simply because the name of this character in Any Given Sunday is just too good. His Tash is pretty decent too. I give you Montezuma Monroe:

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My final comment is this: the speech I’ve quoted from Any Given Sunday is given by Al Pacino during half-time of a big game, when his team is on the ropes. At the end of the speech he says: “so what you gonna do?” I thought that was very similar to TF’s own mantra: What’s next? My message this week is that losing, or being the underdog, is sometimes the moment when we are best placed to work out what’s next – that’s the time when we really look at ourselves and see what we’re really made of. We’re usually tougher than we think.

Have a great weekend folks – I hope it’s a victorious one.

What’s next?

p.s. For the Whitecraigs lads, I thoroughly recommend this as a pre-game tune:

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