Front-runners vs. Underdogs

Last night was the College Championship Game between Alabama and Clemson.  BYU didn’t make the playoffs so as I fan I was sitting on neutral ground.  But between you and me I found myself rooting for Clemson.  If only for the sake of tiring from Alabama.  I mean it feels like they win the dang thing every year!  I’m sure many of you felt the same.

Alabama is undoubtedly well coached and a classy organization from top to bottom.  But they are a program of front runners.  Because of their reputation and recent success they have a strong advantage over most other universities, including Clemson’s, in their recruiting.  Alabama had 43 former High School Under Armour All American’s on its roster last night; Clemson had 8.

Although Clemson was the higher seed, you could very well make the case they had no business winning that game.  And of course, the results are in, they lost 45-40.  But what about all the countless other underdogs of the world?  Do they have a chance at success?

Many of our cultures famous figures have notedly been underdogs.  You’ve heard the stories.  Michael Jordan was cut from his sophomore basketball team.  Albert Einstein dropped out of school at 15, and later flunked his entrance exams for a polytechnic school in Zurich.  Thomas Edison famously highlighted his discouragements by saying “I have not failed.  I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”.

One of my personal favorite tales is of Reggie Miller.  He was born with hip deformities.  When he was five doctors told his mother he would likely never be able to walk normally.  He overcame those odds and went on to become one of the all time great shooters and competitive players in the NBA.

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So what about the rest of us?  Are these stories of meekness turned to greatness applicable in our lives or only outliers?  Now I’m not going to sit here and feed you some line about “follow your dreams, and anything is possible” etc. etc. lest I lose my credibility.

I will say this; in my own experience I’ve come to emphasize with Mr. Edison’s words.  There is something to be said about having the determination to pursue your ambition even when your first, second, fifth, twelfth, and thirtieth attempts are unsuccessful.

I attend BYU.  They boast having the best advertising program of any undergrad school in the nation.  It is only partial enrollment.  The first time I applied, I was not accepted.  I did get in the second time.  Next I wanted to apply for the creative track to be a copywriter.  I worked hard, prepared well, and knew the professors.  I applied but was not accepted.  I re-committed myself, continued to develop my craft and applied a second time.  Again I was not accepted.  Since that time I have had two paid jobs copywriting for ads that have been published in a number of different mediums.

I believe there is no learning without failure, at least not for me in my life.  I’m not afraid of failing anymore.  I don’t view my defeats as failures, but opportunities.  Not getting accepted has pushed and motivated me to work harder at my craft and inspired me overall to grow as a person.

Failure is part of life, but don’t let it derail you from your journey.  Enjoy the journey, failures, successes, side-excursions and all.  Whether you aim to write a novel, or a blog; paint a portrait or a sketch; or dare I say to make a positive change in the world.  Pursue it, make an effort, always keep trying.

Personally I’ll never consider myself a front runner.  Not in advertising, garage bands, or on the basketball court.  But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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