I don’t follow basketball, but there’s no escaping the Raptors excitement happening in Toronto right now. After Saturday’s win, the streets were packed with roaring, red-shirted fans, horn honking, and Canadian camaraderie. Bandwagoning all over the place.

It was an unexpected and inspiring surprise. This week’s tip explains how to apply the underdog strategy to any competitive life challenge. Go Raptors!


The underdog advantage.

As an underdog, there’s no winning through conventional methods. If our competitors are already the best at what they do, we need to find our own approach. Finding our own strength means going against what is expected and requires creative strategy.

Many battles have been won by small armies (ex: Trojan horse), new businesses have been revolutionary in a crowded market (ex: Uber), and leading sports teams have been outplayed by strategic underdogs (ex: Raptors!).

Our competitive edge relies on figuring out where our competition is weak, and making that our strength. All giants have a weakness. It may be an obvious deficiency, or they may be hidden well and require some digging. We’ll have a huge advantage if we can find it, and become strong in that area.

In the case of Uber, the startup knew how frustrated customers were with unreliable taxi service, so made knowing where your ride is, and how long it will take to arrive, one of their key features.

We can apply the same strategy. For example, perhaps you coach a kids’ softball team, with average skills, and you want them to win the championship this year. It’s not happening by traditional methods, so how else can you win? If you don’t have any home run hitters, can you make your strength hitting consistent singles, advancing runners and scoring one run at a time?

Take action: Think of a winning goal you’d like to reach, maybe at work, something you do for fun, or even personally – competing against your past self. What aspect of it is not done well? Can you make that your strength?

:: Inspired by Malcolm Gladwell’s book, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants