Everybody loves it when the underdog wins. The theme crops up regularly in movies: whether The Absent Minded Professor or the latest version of The Bad News Bears, something feels right about a group of misfits pulling it together for an eleventh-hour victory over the perennial champs.
We love these stories because they make us believe we have potential to be winners, regardless of how we feel about ourselves at the moment. The fact that underdog stories are not reserved for fiction, but play out in real life, heightens our perception that we could become winners, if we just knew how.
Motivation is often the only difference between winners and losers. You see two equal teams competing, playing with similar skills, and having breaks and mistakes on both sides. Yet one team wins. What is the difference? Motivation!
If you want the edge that makes a difference in your personal success, you’ve got to use motivation to get the most out of your skills. Here are some practical tips to maximize your motivation:
- Know what you want – If you don’t have a clear idea of what you’re trying to accomplish, you’ll never get there. The person who complains about lack of success, or more frequently, the “unnatural” success of others, is often sitting around, waiting for something to fall in their lap. Winners know what they want to achieve and set the steps to get them there.
- Record your progress – Don’t scrub your to-do list every time you mark a task completed. Use those check marks to remind you of the progress you have made. In turn, the record can push you forward to new accomplishments.
- Use rewards – There’s nothing quite like recognition to bolster your self confidence and motivate you to continued success. When you receive recognition, or are rewarded by others, hang on to those as reminders of things you have done well. If your current project doesn’t come with external rewards, create some for yourself. Use rewards to mark milestones and motivate you into the next phase.
- Challenge yourself – Don’t be content to merely repeat last year’s success. Athletes don’t limit themselves to winning championships, but are constantly looking for ways improve their personal best. Whether it’s adding to current skills or completely re-inventing yourself, personal challenges can motivate you.
- Think positively – The power of positive thinking may seem like a cliche, but it works. William Hazlitt said, “If you think you can win, you can win. Faith is necessary to victory.” Negative self-talk is going to get in the way of your success. Surround yourself with the things that will help you think positively.
- Remember the why – Remind yourself of the reason for your current undertaking. Why are you trying to be successful in the endeavour: to bring financial security, to create a good life for your family, to help someone in need, to see your name in lights or engraved on a trophy? All these are valid drivers and revisiting them from time to time will motivate you to go forward.
Bill McCartney, a former head coach at the University of Colorado said, “All coaching is, is taking a player where he can’t take himself”. The greatest coaches don’t necessarily have all the greatest athletes, but they know how to get the best out of the team. The greatest personal successes don’t come from people who have all the talent, but from those who know how to maximize their talent through motivation.