Luke Skywalker vs. Darth Vader. Rocky vs. The Russian. Nacho Libre vs. Ramses. What does the first party in each contest have in common? Each of them are winners. And we love winners.
But each of them was also an underdog. And we love the underdog. We love rooting for someone that has their back up against the wall with nowhere to turn. We love seeing a more apt, more powerful foe succumb to the perseverance, grit, and determination of an unlikely hero. When we read, hear, or see stories of underdogs winning, it makes us feel like we can conquer the world!
So what makes an underdog an underdog, and how do we tap into our own inner underdog? We'll find out through the story of David and Goliath, which can be found in the Bible in I Samuel 16-17.
Before we get to the traits of a winning underdog, lets look at one underdog and his competition. David was the youngest of eight brothers. He was a "youth" of small stature (some scholars think about 5 feet tall) and ruddy (meaning "red," probably from being in the sun all day). I Sam. 16:7, 10; 17:33. Goliath was a "champion" that stood about 9 feet tall, wearing an armor plate that weighed about 125 pounds, and armed with 15 pound spear. I Sam. 17:4-7. Saul tells David that Goliath was a man of war since his youth. I Sam. 17:33.
I think that if you examine most underdog winners, you'll find that each has four specific traits. We can deliberately embody these traits and win our unlikely battles.
Preparation - Yes, preparation. Even though the underdog seems to have less resources, less experience, and even less confidence, the winners on our list were ALWAYS prepared. The kid in our case study, David, was only a shepherd confronting a huge man. However, listen to his response when Saul tells him he can't defeat Goliath: "Thy servant kept his father's sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered [the lamb] out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and smote him, and I slew him. Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear . . ." I Sam. 17:34-36.
David had been prepared for fighting Goliath by killing much fiercer combatants. He didn't blindly challenge him without skill or practice. And he didn't sit around waiting for an opportunity to then prepare for. He was already prepared to take the opportunity when it presented itself.
We also need to prepare for the opportunity. We need to prepare now! When the challenge presents itself, we will be ready to win, through diligent planning and preparing. What do you need to do? Study an area of law? Get to the gym in your off-season and increase muscular endurance? Finish your degree? Rise up to your future challenge by preparing now.
Stay tuned for the next trait . . .