The Ricketts family bought the Cubs from the Tribune company in 2009. As soon as the Rickettses took over, the Cubs started losing more and more games over the years. But the family had crafted a solid, multi-year plan. They met with some of the smartest individuals in the baseball world to learn what steps they needed to take to build their dream team: Who were the best people to fill in their management and leadership positions? Who should they draft onto the team? Who should they trade and who needs to go? Eventually, the Ricketts family decided to create a super young team recruited from the farm system. They brought on Theo Epstein to be president of baseball operations and then, when he was available, Joe Maddon as manager. Eventually, to cap it all off, the Cubs brought on star pitcher Jon Lester. And from the Losable Losers they bought in 2009, the Cubs are currently in the World Series in 2016. These steps were not accidental. They were rigorously plotted out, a plan was set and all the players in the game knew what to do.
So what do the Cubs have to do with reaching our goals?
EVERYTHING. Here’s what I mean:
- The Ricketts family took the time to meet with experts to formulate and invest in a winning plan. Choosing to make a big, personal life change like losing weight or training for a marathon is a big deal! And, yes, you can read up on what to do via the internet or by books but I would stress the importance of making sure your source is credible. Check credentials, get multiple opinions, choose what aligns with your values. If you do that, you create your own winning plan. (Side note: The Rickettses bought the team for $845 million in 2009; the team was worth $2 billion by 2014. Think they treated their 2009 team as an investment? You betcha.)
- They stayed away from Shiny Object Syndrome. The Cubs recruited a core group of athletes from the minor leagues. This means they trusted that young players with zero major league experience had the grit to eventually make it to the World Series. Yes, they brought on veteran pitcher Jon Lester, but he was an anomaly. With weight loss and strength training, it’s so easy to gravitate to a Shiny Object that promises fast results like a juice cleanse or Paleo to radically cut carbs or to join CrossFit because your neighbor did it and lost 120 lbs and looks like an Adonis but can’t raise his arms overhead anymore. But here’s a question: Does it work for everyone? Could it work for you? Long term? Or is there a plan that might work for YOU that lines up with your values that you can follow for the time it takes you to reach your goals and beyond, even when things aren't going your way?
- Practice, practice, practice. I use the word “GRIT” very purposefully. How do young Cubs hopefuls get from the farm to the Big Leagues? By practicing. Did they love every bit of their training? Do you think their awesomeness blossomed linearly? Nope. And there was nothing linear about the modern Cubs’ growth either. In 2012 — 3 years post-acquisition — the Cubs lost 101 games, their worst season since 1966. When we decide we want to lose x amount of lbs, it doesn’t just “happen”, right? We need to take action. We (and by “we” I’m now talking about my own clients and myself) choose specific habits and skills to work on. And just like you don’t win a World Series overnight, you don’t lose the weight and keep if off overnight, either. You hone your nutrition and fitness skills over time, you collect all of the wins you can and learn from the losses. You understand that, in order to be a champion, you need to put in the time, one game at a time.
- They’ve stayed the course. Ok: So I LOVELOVELOVE my nutrition program, CleanSlate28. But when I tell potential coaching clients that the program is all about developing skills and habits to lose weight and keep it off over time, and that there are guidelines but no hard and fast rules, that they don’t need to eliminate gluten/dairy/soy/corn/fun/taste/life to reach their goals, I lose people’s interest really fast. A lot of people want an immediate answer to solve their “problem”. They want things to happen NOW and I can’t blame them! If you’ve ever told friends/loved ones/acquaintances that you’re working out and making better food choices, how many times have people given you uninvited advice? (“You should do Bikram CrossFit!” “Have you tried drinking wheatgrass shots in a headstand? I lost all of the baby weight in 5 days that way.” There’s always a critic.) But, time and time again, the people who are able to reach their goals and then stay there have been able to make their lifestyle changes ones that they’re personally happy with, that they can make a full life with. The Ricketts family had a plan they were happy with, that they believed in. They were heavily criticized by everyone under the sun and it was at times emotionally draining. But they stayed the course. And they got to the World Series in the time they predicted: about 6 years from their year of purchase. Pretty cool!
- One of manager Joe Maddon’s many Yoda/Dan John-like philosophies is, “Don’t let the pressure exceed the pleasure.” I’ve learned to coach clients to declare a new habit/skill by filling in the blanks with this sentence, “I am 90-100% confident I can ___________ when I _________.” For example, “I am 90-100% confident I can drink 24oz of water while I get ready for work in the morning.” But what’s usually missing is the word “happily”. If a CleanSlate28 client says, “I am 90-100% confident I will eat zero added sugar at any time of the day, seven days a week,” I will ask them to rephrase the statement with the word “happily”. 9 times out of 10 it changes entirely and the client has a huge AHA moment. Happily? We deserve that? YES. Because if you’re going to experience long-lasting success, shouldn’t you be able to do that WHOLEHEARTEDLY?
It may be a very long time until I talk about major league sports again. But I couldn’t let this go. The Cubs’ modern story seems so other-worldly but when you break it down, it could be any one of our own.
And with that, I will leave you with two words: GO CUBS!