The frustration that lies just below the surface, screaming “What do you want from me?” is one that...
For You I Will – Advocating for the Underdog at Work
Can I be a true Philadelphian without loving Rocky? I don’t think so. The story of an underdog is a perennial favorite for any lover of gritty characters. We want to see those who work hard, who don’t seek attention for themselves, and who operate with a sense of values and compassion succeed. We want to root for them. It makes for a great movie.
Are you rooting for the underdogs at work? Sylvester Stallone might be worthy of your adoration and support (I mean, of course he is), but is Mary in Finance or Chip in Sales?
Rocky was able to tap into our sense of opportunity, our desire for the “big man” to lose, and our frustration with how others manipulate the “little guy” for their advantage. Rocky plugged away for years, even getting to the brink of doubting himself. Am I doing the right thing? Rocky is challenged to dig deeper in his confirmation that he earned this opportunity, even if no one else believed in his right to it or his resolve to see it through.
Have you considered that Frank in purchasing and Rebecca in operations might be traveling the same internal struggle? Think about the years some people have worked at your organization. Can you believe that some are still waiting for their chance? They’ve been plugging away and hoping that the dream opportunity materializes. Not all of those who stay at your company are embittered and cranky just because they are older (that’s called age discrimination, by the way). Some are frustrated as to how overlooked they’ve been or how demeaned their person has been. There may be a story to tell that you do not know yet. Ask them.
Rooting for the underdog takes context. You have to know the tales of those who travel alongside you at work in order to advocate for their success and to encourage options for their victories. Adrian supported Rocky. He needed someone to believe in him without having that belief contingent upon what you can do for me. Too often there are ulterior motives for support of the underdog. Rocky experienced that, and it resonates with so many watching because they’ve experienced it, too.
One of the under-recognized truths about supporting the underdog is what it does to the person supporting. Adrian found her voice as a result of the well-received support towards Rocky. She was affirmed for her support, even though she didn’t understand why he fought or why he would want to be hurt. Adrian didn’t have to understand everything to be supportive. She saw that he could be great at boxing. And in return, Rocky saw that there was much more to Adrian than she realized. She was open to the encouragement.
Look around for the underdogs in your life. Who is near you that needs affirmation and support? It’s not hard to find them. Once you do, open a door for them. As Apollo Creed said, ““Do you believe that America’s the land of opportunity?... Well Apollo Creed does, and he’s gonna prove it to the whole world by giving an unknown a shot at the title.” Give someone a shot at the title today. And then just watch what happens to you in the process.
“You're breakin' the ribs. You do that to Apollo Creed, they'll put us in jail for murder.”
(This past week: RIP Burt Young, Paulie from the Rocky franchise - [To Rocky as he is punching hanging meat])