Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Don't underestimate the power of being underestimated.

   In 1950, in the final round of the World Cup, Uruguay faced the presumed winner Brazil.  The Brazilian newspaper O Mundo had printed an early edition on the day of the game with a photograph of Brazil and the caption "These are the world champions". The Brazilian players each had limos with their name on them to escort them away from the game after their victory. A victory that was in the eyes of virtually everyone, a forgone conclusion.

   Among those not so convinced were the players of Uruguay. They were enraged by the smug attitude of Brazil to think they could easily take a victory. To frame this, you must imagine one pre-game locker room filled with the Brazilians who were relaxed, awaiting to dispense with their inferior neighbors. In the other locker room were the Uruguayan players with every reason to prove them wrong. All this was unfolding on Brazil's home turf in Rio de Janeiro. 

   With everyone expecting a victory, including the FIFA organizers who had prepared solely for a Brazilian victory (even preparing medals in advance with Brazilian players names on them), the teams took to the field. At the end of the game, Uruguay had prevailed with a score of 2-1. The had beaten Brazil in their own backyard, against what were considered insurmountable odds. Why? Because they held the power of being underestimated.

   Clearly, being underestimated is not, on it's own, enough. But letting your opponent enjoy the feeling of an advantage is a powerful tactic. Anyone who thinks they have victory before the game begins is taking a huge risk. It leads to both an undue lack of mental preparedness as well as providing the competition with an added incentive to win. 

   When it comes to talking about the competition in business, life, or sport; let the them do the talking, while you are busy "doing". While they promise the moon, you prepare to deliver it. Let them have a high opinion of themselves. I've even hinted agreement with my competition's hype, if only in words. But when it comes time to "play", hold nothing back. 

   Let them discover, to their surprise, the power of being underestimated.


  1. Tim you have said many things and I always love your quotes, but if there is one thing I will always remember about you is your quote "Don't underestimate the power of being underestimated", thank you I do believe I am much richer because of that very line by you.

  2. Colombo even made it sexy - in a rumpled way :)