World Series Champion Chicago Cubs

Even as I type the title to this blog post, I can barely believe that the Cubs are World Series Champions after 108 years.

I grew in Connecticut as a Boston Red Sox Fans. I had every player’s photo hanging in my room. I listened to as many games as I could on my transistor radio. In 1967 and 1965, when they were in the World Series, they lost both times.

When I moved to the North Side of Chicago in 1981, I immediately became a Cubs fan. We lived a mile from Wrigley Field and I went to many games with friends and my sons. We rooted for the Cubs even though they lost a lot. Out of frustration, I promised my youngest son when he was eight that if they ever got to the World Series we would go (We went to Game 3.)

I cried when the Cubs won the World Series, because I knew this was the first time “my baseball team” had done it!

We can all learn a lot in small business from these Cubs:

  1. Develop talent. The Cubs were not built on superstars with mega contracts that were rented for a few years. In fact, President of Baseball Operations, Theo Epstein traded away current stars to get minor league draft picks that could be developed over five years to build a championship team. In business, hire people for the long term. Success does not happen overnight. Invest in training them to be superstars in the coming years for the company.
  2. Team work does work. Throughout the year, the Cubs never depended on a few superstars. With 25 guys, there was always someone stepping up to spark a win when others fell down. In business, superstars don’t always make the different; It’s the average employee that steps up when they are needed. Play as a team and depend on everyone.
  3. It’s never over until it is. Down three games to one in the series, the Cubs came back to win. Teams do it all the time! Leading 6-3 in Game 7, the Indians tied the score. The Cubs came back to win. In business, many companies give up to easily. Look at all the options and strategies until there is clearly no time left.
  4. Stay calm. The coach, Joe Maddon, never panic. He always reminded players never to let the “pressure exceed the pleasure” of paying the game. Even when they were losing to their opponents in many series, Maddon always stayed calm and never approached any games as do or die. In business, team members look to leaders to stay calm. Panicking never aids anyone. It is critical to have fun even during stressful times.
  5. Sometimes it takes a break. The glorious 17-minute rain delay stopped the Indian momentum and allowed the Cubs to regroup in the visitor clubhouse. In business, leaders and teams need to periodically step away from the situation and take a break to get a new perspective for success.
  6. A leader speaks up. Despite his miserable series at the plate, Jason Heyward gathered the team together during the rain delay to tell them they can still win. Forget about that the game is now tied, the Cubs could grind their way back and do it! In business, the true leaders will speak out during bad times. These will not always be the managers or the owner of the company.
  7. Let go of the past. The past is over and it can’t be changed. In order to win game seven, the Cubs had to stop thinking about two runs scoring on a passed ball and a game tying home run. They had to focus on how to score more runs to win the game. In business, many leaders get stuck in the past. Mourn what happened but then let go and take an action to give another chance at success.

What did you learn from the Cubs?