What Do I Have in Common with the Kentucky Derby Winner?
We are both underdogs with the odds stacked against us, we both came out winners.
I don’t normally watch the Kentucky Derby, but this year I decided to watch based on a gut feeling I had. Little did I know how much a 2 minute horse race would be the reminder I needed of how far I came! The winning horse was an underdog with 80-1 odds. Rich Strike was NOT even supposed to run, but got in 30 seconds before the deadline because of another horse withdrawing. Rich Strike wasn’t even acknowledged by the announcer until the last few seconds of the race! Oh, how I know what it feels like to have the odds stacked against you and not being acknowledged.
If you haven't seen the race yet, here's your chance:
What happens when you don't give up?
Going into the Derby, there were no expectations for Rich Strike to win. He wasn’t the “popular” horse or the “people’s favorite”. He didn’t have a pedigree background, having been purchased for just $30,000, not the hundreds of thousands like other winning horses, and he only won one race prior to running in the Kentucky Derby. His trainer was ready to give up horse racing, after losing 23 horses in a fire just 5 years earlier. Talk about bad luck preceding the path to greatness! The odds were stacked against the horse, in more ways than one. Yet the team did NOT give up!! The trainer, owner, jockey and horse all kept plugging along, training, refining, learning, and training some more. On race day, the team of Rich Strike - trainer, owner, jockey and horse - all showed up, did what they do best, worked as a team, ran fast, and WON. The jockey said halfway through the race he believed he could win. The owner said “If we got in, we got a shot [at winning]”. The jockey said “I have a horse, I have a shot”. Neither one of them doubted their abilities. They were grateful to have the chance and they believed in themselves.
While watching the two minute race, I wasn’t rooting for any particular horse, I was admiring the majestic beauty and athleticism of horse and jockey working together. When Rich Strike crossed the finish line and the announcer mentioned that he was the longshot, that’s when I started crying. The long shot WON! Never give up on the underdog!
I've been the underdog and the long shot all my life.
I lived most of my life as an underdog and a long shot, being told by my teachers and my bosses at work that I would never amount to anything. I was born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate which affects my speech and how I look. Throughout my whole life, people would see the scars on my lip, my blonde hair, the fact I’m female, and that my speech was less than perfect and immediately write me off as a long shot “You’ll never finish your PhD, you’re not smart enough”. “Sorry, we can’t hire you as a secretary, we need someone who has better speech”. “We need someone more professional looking to be the first person our clients see in our office, perhaps we can find you a job working in the back room”. In high school, I was left out of the “cool" group of girls because my classmates couldn’t understand me. I didn’t date until my 20’s because boys wouldn’t talk to me. I got married because I thought it would help my self-esteem, it didn’t.
Growing up, so many people never thought I would amount to anything. If I was a horse, my odds would have probably been the same as Rich Strike, 80 to 1. However, I didn’t know that I was a long shot, or that the odds were stacked against me. Just as jockey Sonny Leon said, “I have a horse, I have a shot”. I knew I have a chance…the chance TO HELP PEOPLE. To help other individuals like me, with a cleft lip and palate, become the best version of themselves by building self-confidence and acceptance. I have the opportunity to help other business owners, like myself start their business and feel confident about it. I have the chance to help college students pass their accounting classes.
"It’s breeding and training and something unknown that drives you and carries you home."
Like Rich Strike, winner of the 2022 Kentucky Derby, I’ve faced a lot of adversity. With inner strength, training, and a bit of luck, I’ve overcome 20+ surgeries and an abusive marriage. I went from failing high school math to earning a PhD in business and accounting, finding my dream job and losing it only to learn it wasn’t my dream job in the first place. I realized my purpose and true calling in life as a confidence and transformation coach, traveled around the world, and had positive experiences while meeting people who changed MY life. My Kentucky Derby was giving a TEDx talk a few months ago to educate the public about cleft lip and palate, something I never thought I would (or could) do (As of this post, the video is still being edited, I'll update with the link as soon as the video is published).
In the words of Dan Fogelberg’s song, Run for the Roses, “It’s breeding and training and something unknown that drives you and carries you home”. For me, it was 50+ years of resilience, determination, faith, and “something unknown” that brought me to where I am today. I am so grateful that I have the opportunity to help my clients and the people I meet run their own version of the Kentucky Derby. If you feel like you’re an underdog, with the odds stacked against you, don’t give up!! Keep running, keep training, keep looking forward. You will have your chance to Run for the Roses and you WILL come out a champion.