Defining a Winner

By the time the first inning was over, everyone hoped the All-Star was here. In the ten run first, Cubs pitcher Jon Lester managed only two outs before being mercifully pulled. Is there any good news? Yes. Lester still made $781,000 plus change for the day. At season’s halfway point, the Chicago Cubs are 43 – 45, with little chance of repeating anything but mediocrity.

Twenty-five years ago, former Indiana University Coach Bobby Knight told an audience of automotive executives that getting to the top of one’s profession is hard. Staying at the top is extremely hard. At this point, Cub fans count their blessings that players can even find the locker room.

In 2013, Chicago Tribune columnist K.C. Johnson wrote:

“Ask any player or coach who has been part of a repeat championship season — or, to even a greater degree, a three-peat — and this answer is obvious: Getting on top is hard. Staying there is even harder.

Forget the cliché of how once a team wins a title, it always gets the other team’s best shot — although this cliché is somewhat true. It’s more the cumulative wear and tear of playing so many games the previous season and having to do it all over again.

Plus, a first championship season for a talented team often has a feel of inevitability to it. Think Detroit Pistons breaking through the Boston Celtics’ stranglehold or the Chicago Bulls finally solving the Pistons.

But repeating is a different story. It takes continuity on a roster, perseverance through adversity and talent — lots and lots of talent. Repeating has been in fashion since the Lakers did so in 1988. The Pistons, Bulls (twice), Rockets and Lakers (twice more) have accomplished it since.”

The Chicago Cubs look like a vacationing family traveling without Google Maps. They demonstrated an absence of perseverance that propelled their World Series run a season ago. Even Lester appeared unable to muster any amount of urgency, even to pick up the baseball fumbled by Contreras behind home plate.

Yet, from Cubbie misery cometh life lessons.

First, whether one struggles in marriage, experiences poor work situations, declining health, or has a struggling child, you need to remain consistent. Persevering through adversity is the key to continued success. One cannot succeed in life by simply going through the motions.

Secondly, find some level of joy. In his book “The Inner Game of Tennis,” Tim Gallwey wrote “What is the real game? It is a game in which the heart is entertained, the game in which you are entertained. It is the game you will win.” One has to wonder if the Cubs experience entertainment from baseball. Maybe. Then again, their play screams maybe not. More importantly, how are your life experiences?

Third, lose yourself to the “zone.” For me, being a Buddhist meant I had to lose my edge. Intensifying concentration freed limitations and allows the spirit to soar. Soaring created a self-surpassing dimension of human experience recognized by the world, regardless of culture, gender, race, or nationality that promotes highly efficient performance, emotional buoyancy, heightened sense of mastery, lack of self-consciousness, and transcendence. Athletes phrase this as “being in the zone.” Coworkers call it “being in the flow.”

The Cubs misery reiterates that true success is not a one-time event. Winners in daily life do not require salaries of $700,000, yell at one another, or place personal absolution over others. Real winners find the required combination of personal commitment to succeed. This type of effort involves sustained discipline, practice, and energy output day after day, year after year.

As such, in your life are you in your own flow? Or are you simply going through the motions?



Categories: Life Lessons

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