I’ve had plenty of times in my career when people have underestimated me. I don’t want to conclude their motivations but all I know is that it’s an awful feeling. The feeling of knowing that you are capable of more but the people can’t see your real potential or look beyond your current limitations. At the beginning of the year, after a meeting that left me very frustrated, I remember vehemently swearing that I would never let anyone underestimate or disrespect me again? I was going to go hard to prove to the world what I’m capable of.
Recently I’ve had a big change of heart. I recently watched a documentary on Tyler Perry and I realised that being underestimated can be a blessing in disguise. Tyler Perry credits this as one of the reasons why he was able to negotiate better terms on owning his content since no one Hollywood expected him to really succeed. Think of Steve Jobs too: fired from Apple then comes back to and turns around the company then sets it up on a trajectory to be the largest company in the world.
In hide sight, I look back at many times I rocked up to meetings and could tell that the people on the other end of the table were not expected much from me. Then during or after my presentation, you could tell see the surprise factor. Now, I’m not an insecure person who thinks people are out to get me. I have a fairly healthy self esteem and I’m always extremely optimistic. I also do have a fairy big ego that I have been trimming down slowly since I read the book Ego Is The Enemy a few years back. It’s only very recent that I’ve trained myself not to get pissed off when I feel insecure or when my ego is bruised.
Being underestimated means that you the space to work on your craft and become the best without the crazy expectations that the popular have. There’s soo much scrutiny on the popular folk that the undue pressure almost sets them up to fail. Also, because no one really expects much from you, you can sneak in unexpected and pounce. I remember in 2015 signing up one of the largest real estate companies in Australia as a client against some of the larger agencies. There is no way they would have seen me circling and I was able to snatch a 6 figure deal from right under their noses.
We all love to be recognised and respected. I find that being underestimated gives me this insane fire in the belly to be the best. Not so I can prove to the world that I am worth something, even though thats’ nice. I want to prove to myself that I can. Confidence starts from the inside.
Don’t let being underestimated hold you back or let you shrink your expectations on yourself. Use this ammunition and strike when they least expect it.