I moved to Chicago in the late 90’s and lived in Lincoln Park, not quite Wrigleyville, but still close enough to walk home from a game on a warm summer night. And as seems to be the case with everyone who moves to the Northside of Chicago, I immediately became a Cubs fan. Wrigley Field, loyal fans, a fun-loving crowd, a long tradition, there was so much to love. This year, like so many others around the country I was excited to follow the team and to celebrate the World Series win. It seemed so epic it got me thinking of what we could all learn from the Chicago Cubs:
Change Doesn’t Happen Overnight and It’s Not Easy: Everyone knows that this winning season didn’t happen overnight. Theo Epstein, the Cubs President was hired in 2011. He started to clean house, brought in lots of new talent and it took 5 years to win the World Series. In those 5 years there were some really rough times and tough losses (remember “try not to suck” was a recent motto), but the team kept their focus on winning.
Experience Counts: You have to love the young guys on the Cubs team Rizzo, Hayward, Lester, Chapman, Fowler, Baez, and Bryant just to name a few. But the 39 year-old David Ross, or Grandpa Rossy as nicknamed by his young teammates, who had spent 21 years playing professional baseball was described as the heart of the team and a deeply powerful influence on their winning.
Focus on the Win: Since the late 1930’s a flag is raised above the scoreboard at Wrigley Field to denote the team’s win, with a W or loss, with an L. In more recent years this symbol really took off, with fans displaying it often and proudly in and out of the stadium. The lesson is no matter what, focus on the win. You saw this focus all year up until the very last game of the series when at an impromptu team meeting during the rain delay “everyone was fired up” according to Jason Hayward.
Let Go Of Limiting Beliefs: The Cubs hadn’t won the World Series since 1908 and many believed that the reason was that the Cubs were cursed. There are several curses but the most famous is The Billy Goat curse, going back to 1945. When asked what he thought about it Cubs manager Joe Maddon said “If you want to believe in that kind of stuff, it’s going to hold you back for a long time”. I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Real Men (and Women) Do Cry: From the fans, to Bill Murray, to the players themselves (Rizzo! Ross!), plenty of tears were shed over the win. Even at the bar in California where I watched the game with my fiancé and a mix of fans - a winemaker, the kitchen staff, a bartender, some tourists, and another Chicago transplant - the tears were shed. And didn’t we all feel better?
I could go on with a bunch of additional lessons on teamwork, focus, family, perseverance and tradition, but I’ll wait until next year for those. In the meantime, Go Cubs!