5 Steps to Prove Them Wrong

No champion has ever arrived at the pinnacle of her sport without overcoming some naysayers. But how do they do it? How do some women let the words of others fuel them, while some let those lies seep deep inside to taint their identities? 

Take a look at five ways you can prove someone wrong when they underestimate you.

 1. Know Yourself

Before you can prove anyone wrong about what they said, you must understand their point of view, and you must understand your point of view. To accomplish the impossible in ignorance isn’t nearly as impressive as understanding the viewpoint of your naysayers, and then defying that reality anyway.

 I’ll use my own life as an example. After three shoulder surgeries, a degenerating biceps tendon that was cut out of my arm, and three-fourths of my shoulder capsule rebuilt, doctors and coaches told me it was unrealistic to return to NCAA competition again. To ignore their concerns wouldn’t have been the heart of a champion, but the heart of a fool. 

 I had to understand that what they were saying was true… for 99 percent of people in those circumstances. However, I also knew myself. I knew I was the one in a million athlete, from every aspect of my story that I had lived for 19 years. I acknowledged their wisdom, but I knew myself better than to let their boundaries define my abilities (and I did return to competition and lifetime best times, by the way). 

 2. Believe in Yourself

 A true champion believes in herself even when no one else does. Once you know yourself, then you have to believe in yourself. Knowing yourself is only the first step; trusting yourself is the second. If you know you can do what someone has said you can’t, then believe it. Write the goal split on your mirror. Repeat a motivational quote in your head every time doubt surfaces. Win one day at a time.

Proving people wrong doesn’t happen in an instant, just like achieving goals doesn’t happen overnight. You must commit to your goal and believe in yourself over time. For some of us, that can seem overwhelming, so just win the day. Believe in yourself enough to overcome the odds today, and then get up and do the same thing tomorrow. By the time your deadline rolls around, you will have proved yourself and others wrong so many times that you’ll have the confidence to do it when the game is on the line.

 3. Discern When to be Proved Wrong

Surprise! Proving others wrong is also about being proved wrong. No one likes a sore loser, and no one likes an arrogant winner. If you prove someone wrong without class, it doesn’t really mean much to those around you. If you prove someone wrong with character, then your story can inspire millions.

To do this, accept fault when it is yours to accept. Seek to understand others before trying to be understood yourself. If you relate to people with humility, they will want to cheer you on to victory, and having the right people support you can be a fundamental key in proving the naysayers wrong.

 I didn’t do this perfectly in my career. Anger fueled me, and many times, I sought to prove others wrong more for revenge than for inspiration. I learned eventually, but save yourself the trouble and learn from my mistakes. Prove people wrong, but do it with humility. That’s the only way your success will make a difference to anyone other than yourself. 

 4. Shut Up and Work Hard

People don’t want to hear about how you’re going to prove them wrong. To be honest, they won’t want to see it, either. You will encounter far more opposition if you claim beforehand what you are going to do than if you just shut up and do the work to support your claim. They’ll see in time. Besides, you don’t want to claim too much before you know you can hold up your end of the bargain.

True confidence has no need to shout from the mountaintops; true confidence is climbing to the mountaintop in silence, believing in your value and your worth with each step of ascension. Know your goal. Write it down, claim it, and believe it. Only share your vision with a few trusted confidants whom you know will support you. Making others angry at how you could prove them wrong doesn’t help you in the process of achieving what you want. So simply put your head down and work.


5. Show up 

Once you’ve done the work, once you’ve paid the price, you have to put everything you learned into practice when it matters the most: game time. You must have the same confidence on the mountaintop that you did in the climb. You’re using the same principles; it’s just that now they are on full display. 

If you’re someone who chokes under pressure, make a list of the little things you have done and overcome between the time someone wrote you off and the time of your performance. If you’re fueled by anger, imagine your naysayer’s face in your head and channel the energy into focus. If you need some extra ammo, watch your favorite inspirational sports movie the night before the game. The work’s been done. Now fire away!


No matter the end result, whether you proved your mocker wrong or not, walk off the field with joy, knowing that you did the best you could. If you’ve done that, then you’re well on your way to becoming a champion, no matter what anyone says. 

But with all my heart, I hope you prove them wrong. The world needs more women who believe in themselves, no matter what people say. Go fight your battle. Your destiny is yours for the taking.


Tera Bradham

Tera Bradham is an author and motivational speaker. She swam for the University of Arkansas and Texas A&M University before living in South America for a year. Returning to Texas, she taught Spanish and was the head swim coach at Meridian World School. She now dabbles in triathlons and enjoys exploring the mountains of her new home, Bozeman, Montana. Her heart's deepest desire is to empower others to fight for the destiny they were made to live.