So a guy who’s currently in my group coaching program recently had a huge epiphany he shared with the group; he’s in a weird sort of transition period.
You see, this guy has always been the underdog; all his life he’s felt like he didn’t matter. He’s had to struggle, fight, claw his way out of the hole he was seemingly born into and make something of himself. I know how that feels; I’ve been there.
And he’s had the exact same attitude I used to have – that “Fuck you!” attitude towards everyone else around him. That attitude has served him well (just like it served me well); it’s been the fire that’s gotten him to crush it with business, crush it with women, crush it with his body, and truly make something of himself. That underdog narrative he’s been telling himself has really, really, really helped him get to where he is right now – someone who’s “made it”.
But lately something weird’s been happening. Though he still sees himself as “the underdog”, other people no longer see him as such. In fact, they see him as the guy who has his shit together, the guy to turn to in a crisis, the guy you can rely upon. The guy with the answers. In other words, the guy who’s made it.
And he’s felt himself pulled in two different directions. On the one hand, he wants to keep building, keep crushing it, climb higher, make more money, make more friends, have more success with women, build something special. Build and grow and become even better.
But on the other hand, he’s tempted to self-sabotage… to subconsciously (or maybe consciously) screw everything up so he can go back to being the underdog again… because that’s comfortable. That’s what he knows. He knows how to be the underdog, but he doesn’t know how to be the guy with his shit together.
What we’re talking about here is a fear of SUCCESS. Or rather, a fear of all the extra responsibility that comes from being successful – all the extra stuff you have to do. The person you have to be. And not getting to fall back on that old, “I’m the underdog” safety net.
And make no mistake about it, being successful can be intimidating. You have to do the actions that successful people do. If we’re talking about your sex life – you have to talk to women you don’t know, you have to go on Tinder and play the numbers game, you have to get rejected, you have to do a decent job in the bedroom, and many more things. There’s pressure that comes from being successful.
If we’re talking business, you have to be reliable in a crisis, you have to ask people for money, you have to dress the part, you have to have your shit together, you can’t afford to have many bad days, you can’t just not show up to work just because you don’t feel like it. You have to be mature and somewhat professional.
And it’s bloody tempting to go back to your old ways, to be the underdog victim again, to say “Fuck you!” to the world, to declare, “It’s me vs the world!” and have that comfortable chip on your shoulder again. Because it’s what you’re used to; you know how to play that role. You can be the underdog. You’ve done it all your life.
I felt that myself, once I started to get a little taste of success. I was so terrified of having to keep it up, terrified of people finding out I was an imposter, terrified of having to keep pushing forward, terrified of what goals I’d have to work on after the current one. Success is fucking terrifying.
The answer is to take a deep breath and tell yourself it’s ok if you’re not always perfect. You can still be a bit of a train wreck and be successful – I don’t fully have my shit together. Most of my successful clients don’t fully have their shit together. Elon Musk doesn’t fully have his shit together. Most successful people don’t; taking action is always more important than being perfect. Just start moving towards success, accept that sometimes you’ll feel like an imposter, and try your best not to self-sabotage.
Back to this client of mine – he also has a fear of losing that fire and passion that comes from being an underdog. When you’re an underdog, you get to STRUGGLE and FIGHT and it’s almost romantic. It’s like a Hollywood underdog story, with you taking centre-stage as the leading man.
I myself was doing exactly this – I was so obsessed with the romantic underdog story, me vs the world, and making myself the hero of the story. I’ve talked about this before. I didn’t want to let go of being the underdog, and just move into being Successful, Happy Andy. It was a hard transition that took me probably a year or two to fully wrap my head around, and be ok with no longer needing to be the underdog, the fighter, the angry young man.
But when you do let that underdog story go, and move into a more mature, self-accepting place in your life, is you can relax and just be ok. You no longer have to be on edge, constantly fighting against the world, against your invisible enemies, against all the people supposedly holding you back… often just figments of your imagination. You can instead have your goals pretty easily by just putting in a bit of effort and working on them, and being patient enough to stick with your self-improvement. You no longer have to have this massive dramatic David vs Goliath battle. It’s just you working consistently on a goal, taking baby steps every day, and reaching your goal after enough time has passed. Then you move onto the next goal. Then the next. And life is just kind of… nice. Easier. More pleasant. You get more things with less effort.
That’s right – you don’t have to suffer or have all this drama bullshit where you can say FUCK YOU! to the world and prove you’re a winner. You’re allowed to just quietly grind away at your goals, like all those Sigma Male Grindset memes, and reach your goals quietly and comfortably.
So if this resonates with any of you, and you’re thinking, “Holy shit, that is me – I’m always trying to be the underdog and people always tell me I have a chip on my shoulder”… You’re allowed to chill out a bit and enjoy the process of grinding for your goals. It doesn’t have to be this big huge underdog story.
Or maybe you’ll ignore my wisdom here and just do what I did – and what this client of mine did. Maybe you’ll say I’m a big hypocrite – “Andy, you used the underdog story, the chip on your shoulder story, and used it to push yourself to dramatically change your life! If that underdog story worked for you, why not me?!?” And you’ll use that underdog fire and passion and say FUCK YOU! to the world and prove to everyone that you’re worth a shit, that you matter, that you can achieve greatness, that you’re not meant to be a loser. You’ll use the underdog story to motivate yourself and bust your fucking ass, and you’ll make it – like I did, and like this client of mine did.
That’s an option too.
Just be ready for the next chapter of your life where you no longer feel like the underdog – where you finally feel like you actually have your shit together, and people actually respect you. Enjoy it and relax into it and don’t try to fight it; and especially don’t self-sabotage it. Because that moment you no longer need your underdog story will definitely come; it’s inevitable.
And it’s a really beautiful place to be.