Why does the underdog story work? Think about every great movie you love. It likely contained the most essential element of any great movie: character. In that character’s journey, you probably got a taste of their underdog story.
When I’m called in to help a lawyer discover the right story for his client, I’m waiting for it – because it’s always there. It’s something you learn to look for when you’re in the business of storytelling and human motivation. But most importantly, it’s something we can all look for within ourselves when we feel stuck in “I can’t” and are exhausted from pleading to the universe that it sends us a get-out-of-jail-free card.
If you were to ask anyone why we all love the underdog story, you’d pretty much hear the same answer: we love stories about people who don’t give up. Take movies like Rudy or Million Dollar Baby. Especially the crowning champion of underdog movies, Rocky. The powerful, evergreen story of a fighter. For my fellow movie lovers here, let me walk you through an impactful metaphor to set the stage.
Looking Through The Lens of Rocky’s Story
Balboa grew up in the grease stains of South Philly. For Rocky, winning became something much greater than what he needed to accomplish in the ring. He was fighting to prove to everyone in his life—Mick, Adrian, the entire boxing gym of thirsty fighters, and himself—that he could do it. That he could go toe-to-toe against a legend in the ring, the undefeated champion Apollo Creed. And what mattered inside the ring? If he could just stay on his feet, for Rocky, that was his win.
You’ll remember, though, that the end of the movie came with a bittersweet truth. Rocky lost. Yes, our underdog lost that battle. But look what he won? The victory for him was about way more than the ring fight. The greater fight he won outside the ring.
So why do we love these stories? Because there’s something within them that reminds us of who we are and who we want to be. Victors, not victims. People who don’t give up in the face of enormous odds stacked against them. People who are fighting for something much greater than themselves. The victor storyline is always a part of a greater story. Our own.
How to Shift Out of Victimhood?
Try this. Let’s keep it simple because, in all truth, it isn’t as complicated as our minds make it out to be. The next time you want to say what you “can’t,” do… focus on what you are trying to do. Whether you have accomplished your goal or not. Focusing on what you are trying to do will keep you out of the victim trap and keep you in the right role: always the victor, never the victim. It will keep you hungry to keep fighting for your goals and dreams.
We have a tendency to think way too big when it comes to being the victor in our daily lives. But maybe being the victor is just getting out of bed in the morning. Or saying the words, you finally needed to say to a co-worker even if it’s a simple “no.” Unfortunately, due to our fears and wild imagination, we often think of those game-changing moments as larger-than-life events. Therefore, the real game-changers slip by, often unnoticed or unappreciated by us in the routine of our daily lives.
There’s nothing small about a small moment when you are in pain. The small moments truly are enormous. Don’t ignore them! They have an ironic way of leading to unexpected giant moments. You have the power at any moment to keep embracing your inner victor, even if it takes losing some battles like Rocky along the way. As they say, life is a marathon, not a race.
Jesse Wilson is a Communications Specialist, Jury Trial Lawyer Consultant, Author, and Keynote speaker. The CEO of “Tell The Winning Story,” Jesse has given hundreds of transformational storytelling workshops and seminars across the country, helping people make communication breakthroughs with their authentic selves and their audiences. A Juilliard Theater Graduate and author of the soon to be published “Witness Preparation: How To Tell The Winning Story” (Trial Guides), Jesse shares how the lessons from the stage can help ANYONE step into a much more powerful role when you can envision your greater role, and your greater story, waiting to take center stage. You can connect with Jesse Wilson at www.tellthewinningstory.com or visit www.jessewilsonevents.com