Throughout his entire basketball career Stephen Curry has been told what he was and what he could not be…
He was told that he was too small.
He was told that he didn’t have a well-rounded game.
He was told that he would never make it in the NBA because he didn’t go to the big name schools. He wasn’t heavily recruited out of high school or college.
And through all the doubters, the naysayers and the pessimists, he just shrugged his small shoulders and…
Cut his own path to greatness.
The obstacles Curry has faced in the NBA are enough to break down the average player: constantly criticized, benched for extended periods of time, being a point guard alongside Monta Ellis, a ball-dominant shooting guard, and injuries. Oh, and the injuries.
Yet Curry, was determined to be great and he persevered. He took the reigns of the team and has shown the world what he can do by winning the NBA Championship.
Is it any surprise that this same person writes this mantra on each of his shoes…
“I can do all things…”
Throughout history, there’s always been someone who didn’t “belong”. They are perceived to be inferior or not quite as talented or equipped to face the opposition or certain challenges or to accomplish the extraordinary.
But they do…
Rudy Ruettiger played for Notre Dame. At 5’7″ Spud Webb became the shortest person ever to win an NBA Slam Dunk contest. And David, little David, beat Goliath.
While some people believe that Davids only defeat Goliaths in fairy-tales, research shows that underdogs beat the odds much more often than we expect. In an interview with Business Insider, Malcolm Gladwell revealed what is behind this phenomenon in his book “David and Goliath”:
Underdogs who win refuse to compete by the same standards as their opponent; instead they use an entirely different strategy that exploits their stronger opponent’s weaknesses. This is essentially the judo strategy, or a way of disruptive innovation.
Gladwell also talks about how some of the most innovative people are underdogs who, usually through trying life circumstances, don’t struggle with the “over-prediction fear,” or the belief by most people that terrifying events will be worse than they really are. This mindset frees people to be more creative.
Indeed, necessity is the mother of invention. As I said on my last podcast, freedom for all it’s benefits, must be created.
You see, you can’t expect to follow the same route as loads of other mediocre people and expect to be wildly successful. It’s just not going to happen. You have to cut your own path.
Cutting your own path is always going be harder than following one that already exists. People will question you, wonder why you’re bothering, and convince you to do otherwise.
You have to ignore those people.
The path they want you to join is a path to mediocrity – a vast plain of sheep where it is impossible to stand out from the flock. Yes, it’s easier to do what everyone else does. Yes, it’s more comfortable to follow the herd.
But it’s also they way to dissolve into everyday life and be a nobody.
“The one who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. Those who walk alone are likely to find themselves in places no one has ever been before. Creativity in living is not without its attendant difficulties, for peculiarity breeds contempt. And the unfortunate thing about being ahead of your time is that when people finally realize you were right, they’ll say it was obvious all along. You have two choices in your life; you can dissolve into the mainstream, or you can be distinct. To be distinct, you must be different. To be different, you must strive to be what no one else but you can be.” –Unknown
Here’s the key – don’t let your insecurities and your differences lead you to embrace other people’s expectations, standards or values. Harness those differences to carve out your own path, one that is free of the burden of knowing how things are supposed to be, a path that is defined by its own particular set of reasons. Reasons that are important to you and you alone.
The best part of being underestimated is that it makes you hungry. And being hungry pushes our boundaries. Steve Jobs told the 2005 Stanford graduates to “Stay hungry.” When we are the underdogs, we are hungry for success. We have to push ourselves outside of our boundaries, our comfort zone. It’s the whole concept of the “little fish in a big pond.” Underdogs are always the little fish, but here’s the advantage – there is lots of room to grow.
If you find yourself in a position of being the underdog don’t let that get you down. Embrace it and take advantage of the position. Don’t use the excuse that you are the “little guy” and therefore you can’t accomplish big things. It’s just an excuse. Toss it out.
You are you, and you are unique. Your life is unique and nobody else in this world will experience exactly the same things as you will. Nobody will perceive the world to be exactly the same in all aspects the way you perceive the world.
One of the best things you can do is to accept this fact. While it is okay to look up to others who are successful, and learn from their success and their good habits, it is not okay to wish you were just like them. You have to be content with the fact that you are you, and it is up to you to become the best possible version of yourself that you can be.
There is this great clip from an interview with Kevin Spacey that is worth watching. My favorite part is where he says, “To want and to be ambitious and to want to be successful is not enough. That’s just desire. To know what you want, to understand why you’re doing it, to dedicate every breath in your body, to achieve . . . If you feel that you have something to give, if you feel that your particular talent is worth developing, is worth caring for, then there’s nothing you can’t achieve.”
Every single person in this world needs to walk their own path, from beginning to end. Your life path is different from mine which is different from my friend’s life path and so forth. Sometimes that path may be very clear and easy to follow, and sometimes it is like a jungle with no clear path. That is when you need to make the path, pick up the machete and cut the bushes, plants and branches out the way so you can make progress.
Stephen Curry wore his mantra “I can do all things…” on his machete (his shoes) to remind him to silence the outside voices and continue cutting his own path to greatness.
I too had a mantra on my machete as I carved my way to wealth.
You see, I used my underdog status years ago to give myself a grudge, to put a big chip on my shoulder that drove me to success (detailed in my ebook). I then told myself exactly what I needed to hear, every single day, to move my life forward and to silence the critics.
Many said that I couldn’t make it. Many said there was no way a poor kid from the country, whose parents didn’t even finish high school, could become wealthy. But every day I told myself something different.
Every day I told myself something that they didn’t know…
Every day I told myself this – that they were wrong about me.
So, what words will you inscribe on your machete? What words will be a rally cry for your success? What words will galvanize you to take massive action to accomplish your goals?
Find a phrase today. Find a phrase that stirs your soul to achieve, repeat it daily and use it cut your own path to success.
Be free. Nothing else is worth it.
Want even more articles to help you cut through the jungle of mediocrity to success? Click on the links below to read more articles from the archives: