With the Cubs on the verge of going to the World Series (yes, this is a positive post), here are five things we can learn from their ascendancy:
- "Don't ever permit the pressure to exceed the pleasure." This is one of Manager Joe Maddon's great quotes. If this isn't a positive affirmation I don't know what is. Some folks, granted, perform well under pressure. But, they probably don't enjoy the success as much. The point is, if you enjoy whatever it is you're doing, the tendency will be for you to do it better, and implicitly you will have more fun. One of the things noticeable about the Cubs' performance over the last couple months, and during this current nine-game winning streak, is the lack of pressure one feels watching them. The shots of the players and coaches in the dugout rarely show anything but smiling, laughing, and camaraderie. While this isn't necessarily unusual to see in team sports, I've never heard it explained as well as Maddon did. The Cubs are not feeling pressure. They are playing well and having a great time. The pressure is all on the other teams.
- Madden also talked last night in his post-game conference about the fearlessness of his ball club. There are many times in life we all have experienced personal events that we got through. We faced fear. We overcame it. The result is the next time that situation, or a similar situation popped up, we had a reference for being able to carry on. The Cubs are playing without fear. They've played that way all year. They have references/experiences being young ballplayers with the faith of their manager behind them. So do we.
- Which brings up the next point, they are unafraid of the unknown. They are just playing. They aren't worried. We all worry about things that haven't happened yet. For no reason. Most of the players on this team have never experienced the pressure of the postseason. So, they are just playing baseball. Nothing is clouding their minds, rendering them unable to perform at their best. We can do this, too.
- And, look what happens when there are no expectations. Nobody expected this team to win this year. But, they are. Did they fly under the radar? Probably for a time. But, I think the Cubs are playing well because they expect more from themselves than anybody else did. Anthony Rizzo last January claimed the Cubs would win their division. They didn't, but they made the playoffs. Expect more from yourself than anyone else does. You'll be better off for it.
- I've been marveling at how these young ballplayers are playing different positions, like Kris Bryant playing all over the field, Starlin Castro playing second base, Kyle Schwarber playing left, right, and catching, and all performing at a very high level. Why? Probably a combination of a lot of things, some mentioned above. Trust, faith, fearlessness, their own expectations. But, it's also evident they have worked very hard. So, always do your best, always work hard. You never know what you might accomplish by giving it everything you've got. Leave it all out on the field, as they say.
- This is a bonus. If you're a White Sox fan (I am, but I have always been a fan of both), let your crap go. We all live in Chicago. These teams have a great rivalry, but the Cubs are playing great baseball this year. If you are a baseball fan, you must respect that. Watch these kids play. And then hope the Sox are watching, too.
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