Being “Overrated” can be a good thing — Just ask Rickie Fowler

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People will put labels on us:

Overrated, Underrated, Too Small, Too Old, Can’t win the big one, Not fast enough, Not smart enough, Too inexperienced, etc.

Most of the time, these labels are meant to demean us or put us down. But all that matters in life is how we react to those labels. Those labels are NOT who we are UNLESS we allow them to define us. 

Case in point: On Sunday, Rickie Fowler, “the most Overrated golfer in the world” shot six under par on the final six holes in the Players Championship to capture one of the top prizes in all of golf. Overrated? I don’t think so.

Rickie just beat every other golfer in the entire known universe over a four day hotly contested golf championship.

And yet, in a recent poll taken among golfers on the Professional Golf Tour, Rickie Fowler was identified “the most Overrated golfer.” (Truth be told, he tied with England’s Ian Poulter for that dubious honor.)

As the dictionary tells us, the term “overrate” means  “to rate or appraise too highly.”  In other words, Rickie – you aren’t as good as you think you are. That is the message or the label that Rickie had on his shoulders this past week going into one of the great golf championships played anywhere in the world – The Players Championship contested over the famed TPC Sawgrass course in Ponte Verde, Florida. I know something about that course having played it personally probably 20 times over the years. The bottom line,  It’s hard!

So to win at TPC Sawgrass takes extraordinary talent. To Rickie’s credit, he laughed when he saw the Poll. Instead of taking offense (as I would have), Rickie commented:  “I thought it was funny. It’s fine by me. I’m going to try and play as well as I can this week and take care of my own business.”

A Greek Philosopher, Epictetus, told us this 2000 years ago when he said:

“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” In the end, things only have the meaning that we attribute to them.

I don’t know what this amazing victory will do for this young 25 year old. Will the money ($1.8 Million dollars for the week) go to his head? Will he allow his bikini model girlfriend, Alexis, to turn his head?  Or will this signature moment propel him into the golfing stratosphere of the Tiger Woods’ and the Rory McElroy’s?

But at least for one sun-drenched, shining week in Northern Florida, Rickie Fowler took the labels that had been placed upon him by his fellow golfing pros and shoved them back in their collective face and refused to allow them to define who Rickie is as a golfing professional. No one ever won the Player’s Championship the way Rickie did. He needed just 11 strokes on the last four holes making 3 birdies and a tap-in Eagle to drive him to victory.

On Sunday, I learned everything I will ever need to know about Rickie Fowler’s competitive fire. On the intimidating 18th hole both in the regular tourney as well as the playoff, Mr. Fowler took the driver out of his bag while his competitors shied away (aka chickened out) from hitting three woods. Rickie’s two closing drives on the 18th were not just the longest drive hit on that hole on Sunday but the longest of the week measuring over 330 yards. In fact, I have a new label for Rickie Fowler – FEARLESS. Congratulations Buddy. Awesome job!


– David Bradford

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Posted in Posted in Events, Lessons Learned, Life Balance, Sports, Up Principles, What I Learned From  |  5 Comments

5 thoughts on “Being “Overrated” can be a good thing — Just ask Rickie Fowler”

  1. The old adage still holds…”It’s not the dog in the fight, it’s the fight in the dog!”…..plus often our doubters, detractors and demeaners can provide valuable motivation and focus to our lives…if you choose not be intiminidated…but thoose to compete!

  2. I agree being underestimated can be a tremendous advantage. When people underestimate your ability, not only are you motivated to prove them wrong, but often they underestimate how prepared they need to be when competing against you.

  3. David, what a challenge, define the times we’ve been underestimated, where we excelled and persevered. Imagine, you’re up against the wall, instead of trying to stay in the box and be safe, you take out your most aggressive weapon, not fearing the “forever water” to the left, or the forest to the right, and you swing like your life depends on it. You are right “Fearless” is an appropriate new moniker for Rickie, and he deserves it. Congratulations Rickie!!

    I believe at our next Vistage meeting, I will ask the 10 or so CEOs in the room to describe when they defied the odds and earned a new “reputation” among their peers and followers.

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