Laosy Lovable Losers

I am a huge baseball fan. Ok, I’ll admit it, I am a huge Cubs fan! And yes, I am one depressed guy. If you don’t know. The Cubs are known as the “Lovable Losers” among many other names. They haven’t won a World Series championship for over a C E N T U R Y!! Even with this historic track record of losing, they have millions of fans worldwide. Go figure!

Now you might be wondering why I am a fan of these “Lovable Losers?” Good question. I sometimes don’t know myself. Could it be the ’84 Cubs? Could it be my boyhood hero was Ryno? Could it be the mystique of the “Billy Goat?” Could it be the “Friendly Confines?” Hmmm…. what could it be?

Well, I love the fact that they are losers. HAHA! Why? Because losing provides many lessons on how to win. Unfortunately, the Cubs haven’t figured this out themselves yet.

Take for example this year. In the offseason, the Cubs were suppose to win it all according to many reputable baseball gurus. They have a roster full of talent. They have new owners that paid over $100 million to put a strong product on the field. They had a manager that knew how to win and brought winning back to the North side. They have fans galore. On paper, everything was spectacular. The Cubs were suppose to finally compete for the World Series.

How often do we find ourselves in a situation that looked great on “paper?” Everything that we could possible need and want was there. For me, it was like landing one of my dream jobs. I had a great position. I received all my toys – laptop, cellphone, corporate card, etc. I had an awesome CEO that would give me tickets to the hottest sporting events in town. On top of that, he would buy me drinks and food without mercy. I had a great work environment and athletic co-workers to play softball and football with. Everything that I could possibly need and want was given to me. I felt like one of the high profile Cubs player. Life was good.

Like the 2010 team, I had moments of glory and “it was too little, too late.” The Cubs started out terrible and just couldn’t seem to get on a roll in the summer. Now, with less than a few weeks left, they decided to play their best baseball. Their pitching staff became Cy Young’s. Their fielders realized the true purpose of a mitt. Their hitters, oddly enough, played “Ozzie” ball. (Yikes, I just did acknowledge Ozzie! Please forgive me!) Since the retirement of Lou Pinella and as of this date, the Cubs are fielding a record of 18 wins and 8 losses under their new manager. Projected throughout an entire season, the Cubs would win 126 games. (Hey, I am allowed to dream.) This was the team that every baseball guru expected in the preseason. So what happened?

Like my experience, it came down to doing the small things right every day. How often do we apply our energy on a major task or project and work our butts off to achieve great results? Think about that for a minute. The real effort that we neglect is achieving the small things right every day. We go through our days like a zig-zagging financial performance chart. The goal is to achieve greater performance in the most linear upward trajectory as possible. Unfortunately, the Cubs have not learn this lesson year after year. It is not easy to be a consistent winner but it is possible.

Here is The Laosy Life’s guide on How Not to Be a “Laosy Lovable Loser:”

1) Practice the Small Stuff – How often do you hear people tell you not to worry about the small stuff? We tend to dismiss the fundamental things in our lives. In the long long, this neglect will have its impact. Ryne Sandberg is one of my all-time favorite baseball player. A lot of people know him as a slugger who owned the major league record for most home-runs for a second basemen when he retired. To me, it was his defense that was remarkable. He owns the NL record for the most consecutive games without an error. He played a total of 123 games perfectly. He would come to the ballpark every day and work on improving his fielding. What activity in your life can you identify that is similar to “fielding ground balls?” We all have fundamental activities that we need to do. Here’s one of my favorite quotes that sums up this lesson:

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit. – Aristotle

2) Don’t Panic – The 2010 Cubs are full of talent. Carlos Zambrano aka “Big Z” has all the potential to become a dominant pitcher. He was expected to lead the Cubs to the glory land. Perhaps the main driver of Big Z’s talent are his emotions. This is his biggest strength and also his biggest weakness. (What is your biggest strength that is also your biggest weakness?) During the season, Big Z erupted and lashed out his frustrations on a fellow team mate. He was sent to anger management sessions. Since his return from his anger management sessions, Big Z demonstrated his ability to dominate the game.  This is a great example of how support can propel us to greater success. It is undeniable that life will throw all of us a curve-ball. When this happens, it is time for each of us to keep control of our emotions and not overreact. How often do we lose our focus due to our emotions? Adverse situations will test us and we need to be ready to respond in a responsible manner. It helps to have a good support system of friends and teammates. Learn how to seek support and avoid the emotional outbreaks. We all can learn a lot from Big Z.

3) Repeat, Repeat, Repeat – One of the things that really frustrated me about the 2010 Cubs was how Lou Pinella would manage the day-to-day lineup. Lou would change his line-up every day. He would switch out fielders, switch hitters in the batting order and change the pitcher’s assignment. I understand his philosophy of playing every player regularly to keep them sharp. To me, it was a key to why the Cubs couldn’t achieve a consistent winning streak. What Lou needed to do was trust his players to find the chemistry and gel. Lou panic way too early in the season. He didn’t give enough time to let the process work itself out. Sean Marshall became his most effective 8th inning pitcher. He did not have to switch Big Z out of the starting lineup. These changes caused the team to lose focus and limited the success of the team. There is a power of having a consistent process. The Cubs lacked consistency.

Think about your daily course of the day. Now, think about doing everything different the next day. Don’t stop there. Think about changing things again the next day and the next day and so on. How would you feel? A little lost? Maybe chaotic? Lost and chaos are not two words associated with winning. The most important thing we need to do is to find the process for success. Once you found the process, continue to work in that system. It’s about consistently working in a winning process. The consistency will lead to improved focus and skill. And best, in the long run, it will lead to consistent success.

All in all, we can avoid becoming “Laosy Lovable Losers” if we practice the small stuff everyday, keep our focus in good times and bad times, and stay consistent in our daily routine. We just have to have the attitude to do the little things right every single day. Do you think the Cubs are learning? Let’s hope so. We always have next year!

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