Underestimated From Day One
The defensive coach looked at me as I stood in line with all of the other new players attending the first practice of the new college football season.
“Where did you come from?” he asked. I explained who I was and his only response was: “It must be a mistake. I don’t need a short, underweight defensive lineman.”
What the coach didn’t know is that all summer I followed a routine that I had been doing since I was a freshman in high school- up at 5am, run 5 miles followed by 2 hours in the weight room. After dinner it was running stairs at the local junior college.
Two weeks later I recorded 2 sacks and a blocked a field goal in my first game.
As the final seconds ticked off the clock, the coach approached me an said, “I guess I shouldn’t have underestimated you.”
Underestimated In Career Aspirations
Many years later, I was talking to a recruiter about a position she wanted me to apply for. I indicated that the role was not in line with my career goals. I told her that I wanted to be a Vice President.
The line went silent for a moment. Then the said, “You should manage your expectations. You didn’t go the right school and you don’t have the right background or experience to be a Vice President.“
Less than 10 years later, I became a Vice President at one of the biggest brands in the world I made sure that I sent that recruiter the announcement.
Thank You For Underestimating Me
My whole life, I’ve been underestimated. From my early participation in sports to my career in the corporate world, the general consensus has always been: too slow, too weak, too dumb, too inexperienced.
Does this sound familiar? Have people been writing you off your entire life before you even had an opportunity to show them what you can do? If so, be grateful.
People underestimating you can be your greatest advantage.
They’ll Never See You Coming
In athletics, if you’re a perceived threat, the opposing team will focus on you. In business, competition will constantly watch what you’re dong to keep you from taking their customers or market share. In business, insecure coworkers may try to keep you from advancing beyond them by aligning people against you.
However, if people underestimate you, they’ll focus their attention elsewhere. Meanwhile you’ll be quietly working on your game, building a better landing page, or getting ready to land that big account.
They’ll never see you coming. And by the time they realize they made a mistake, you’ll have already won.
It’s Not Skill But Will
People can evaluate your skill, but what they can’t see is what makes you better – your will.
Throughout life, you’ll constantly be confronted with people who are faster, smarter, stronger, have more money, better education, etc. However, if you are willing to work harder, longer, and refuse to quit, you’ll beat them every time.
The Greatest Player That No One Noticed
Jerry Rice, one of the greatest receivers who ever played in the NFL, and who is the all time leader for receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns was completely underestimated coming out of college. Most teams passed on him because he was considered “slow”. However, they were considering his “skill” and not his “will”.
Rice was notorious for his work ethic. He constantly practiced running perfect “pass routes”, and had an off season workout routine that few other NFL players could keep up with.
His commitment to working harder and longer than anyone else resulted in him being named NFC Offensive Rookie of the year. By the time other reams realized their mistake it was too late. He was running past them, on his way to being only one of three receivers to be named Super Bowl MVP. He also occupies a place of honor in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Rise and Grind
So go ahead. Let others underestimate you. Each day you will commit yourself to “Rise and Grind” – to outwork anyone in your industry, company or team.
And one day, they’ll come to you and ask what you did to beat them.
Angelo Lombardo is a Fortune 500 executive who is dedicated to giving other business people the mentality, motivation, tools and processes to “Go On The Offensive” to create the career and/or life they choose.
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