If you follow soccer, you probably heard and saw what most analysts called a miracle last year: Leicester's EPL Championship. If you don't know the story, the team started the season started with expectations of doom and despair as "experts" gave them a 5000 to 1 chance of winning the cup. The same odds as Lady Gaga becoming president of the United States. Since it is March, we all know and love a good cinderella story, but none better than this. The team gave up possession and committed itself to counter attacking. Although their style wasn't what you think of when someone says EPL CHAMPIONS, it rendered results, week after week. Sure enough, they won.
NBC did an amazing story: Check it out if you want affirmation that you can achieve anything.
As a new season came around, expectations changed. They were now the champions. They spent more money, got new players, and on paper were a better team.
So as I look at the standings today, Leicester is back where it has settled for so long.... at the bottom of the table in the EPL. It may make the run they had last year even more special but as a student of the sport, I have to ask myself... was it a fluke?
As an underdog my entire life, from backyard pickup games against my older brother to being a walk-on at Butler University, I know the advantages of being on the bottom of the totem pole, the thrill of walking on a pitch when no one knows who you are and they take you lightly and the joy of winning against all odds. For me, I am an underdog and wouldn't want it any other way. I say this because I know that being an underdog is the fastest way to be a top dog. As I write this now, my energy level boomed and my focus sharpened. I love defying the odds.
Leicester too had these advantages. Low expectations. A challenge so great that a new level of motivation is ignited. A self-belief that only those like Jamie Vardy, who started in the 8th tier of English football, can know. A factory worker leading the EPL in goals... he knows something about the advantages of being an underdog and rode it all the way to the top.
Living in that mindset is powerful and sustainable, but the interesting thing about this story is that as the new season is in route, we have seen the powerhouse clubs rise back to the top and Leicester fall back to the bottom. They now expect to play a style that is representative of EPL champions, they now have a target on their back, and their "magic" has seemed to dissipate.
BUT this only reaffirms my belief in the power of an underdog mentality. To even nail this point further, Leicester's disappointing season in the EPL has been starkly countered by the exciting thrill of their Champions league run! If you haven't noticed, the same team that is 16th in the standings is pulling off "miraculous" run in Champions League. WHY? No one expects them to win. They have been written off. They are back in familiar territory of being an UNDERDOG as they go into the quarterfinals where their name is amongst clubs like Barcelona and FC Bayern München.
We will see what happens but... hey maybe embarcing the underdog mentality is the fastest way to being a top dog.