The Wonder of a World Series Win

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photo by Matt Slocum/Associated Press
Several years ago Robert Fulghum wrote a poem that became a book called,“All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten.”
Having watched my share of baseball lately I feel like I could write, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned from Watching the World Series.”
I don’t usually pay a whole lot of attention to sports teams or their players, their stories, salaries, stats, or celebrity status. But this year, I was looking for a team, a mascot, or a metaphor for my How to Get Your Groove Back coaching group that would mirror back the challenges we face in our ongoing efforts to own our throne and name and claim our power.
I picked the Chicago Cubs because I’ve spent a lifetime of summers listening, watching, and waiting for them to grow into their greatness. When my dad shared a copy of Sports Illustrated Baseball Preview with four of the Cubs on the cover early in the season, I suspected this could be the year the world would get a glimpse of what Cubs’ fans have believed for 108 years.
Little did I know how well this team would play their part or how much I would learn from watching them.
Here are just a few lessons learned from watching the boys of summer play their way into November.

  •  Start with the end in mind. Name it and claim it.  Know what you want and why.   What are you willing to do or give up in order to be, do, or have what you want?
  • Be all in. Show up and suit up no matter what. When you are attempting the impossible, every day is up for negotiation. Do you have it in you? Is it worth it? Only you can decide. And then you decide over and over and over again.
  • Your body is your friend.  Be in it. Embody. Get so comfortable in the skin you are in that when your body needs to bypass your brain, it knows exactly what to do.
  • It takes a village. You cannot get there alone. It takes a coach, a team, an infinite number of visible and invisible allies, adversaries, and loyal fans to bring out your best.
  • Be a good sport. Be generous. Be gracious. Be kind to all of those who are fighting the good fight right alongside you.
  • You win some. You lose some. Setbacks happen. Comebacks, too. Do not give up until you’re certain the game is over.
  • Stay flexible. Shake it off. Be willing to play whatever position is necessary and take one for the team. You never know when the sacrifices you make will pay off.
  • The better you get, the bigger the challenges. Never fear. You are equal to the task. Remember who you are, what got you here, and what you are capable of.
  • Expand your vision of what’s possible. Each experience opens up the door to another that may not have been possible until now. Why not you? Why not now?
  • Pray Rain. I had heard about this concept before but as I was meditating in my basement in an attempt to calm my nerves during the 8th inning of Game 7, the concept came up again.  The story goes that if you are in a drought, you don’t pray for rain.  That only acknowledges the lack of rain. You simply feel the rain on your skin, smell the rain in the air, and see the rain soak into the earth.  In other words, you allow the rain (or whatever you desire) to come forth, emerge, or manifest. You pray rain. Well, I went back upstairs to finish watching the game and guess what happened? Rain delay! And what happened during that rain delay? Jason Heyward reminded his team of who they were and what they were capable of doing and the rest is history.

Sometimes life is so surreal it’s mind-blowing.  And sometimes mystics disguise themselves as bubble-gum chewing ballplayers.
What about you? What lessons have your favorite teams, family members, or adversaries taught you about life?  I’d love for you to share in the comments below.

You Must Be Present to Win

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photo by ASSOCIATED PRESS

I must admit.
I’m overly identifying with the Chicago Cubs this year so the spectacular four-run ninth inning rally that secured their win over the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday night was more meaningful to me than most playoff games.
You see, early on I adopted these boys of summer as mascots for my How to Get Your Groove Back class. Jake Arrieta in particular seemed like the perfect poster guy for getting one’s groove back. He almost gave up the sport altogether when his pitching coaches couldn’t quite find his groove and released him from Baltimore.
Fortunately Chicago was able to help him find it. And then Jake was able to show the rest of the team how to find theirs. (It might have something to do with that Pilates reformer.)
After a lifetime of summers spent listening to the “lovable losers” on the radio, this summer I watched and learned from the victories and defeats of the Cubs like a vigilant den mother. And one of the things I learned is you must be present to win.
You don’t win by checking out, dwelling in the past, or projecting into the future.  If the Cubs had gone into the ninth inning on Tuesday night plagued by what had transpired in the previous eight, they wouldn’t have been open to the opportunities the ninth inning presented. They clinched the series by seizing every one of them.
That takes an unflinching commitment to being in the moment. That is deceptively difficult.
Last week I spoke to a student services group about resolving to evolve. The first of four actions I asked them to take was to embody. 
What does she mean by that?” you might ask.
I mean to be fully present in the skin you are in and to be open and aware of what you are feeling and to allow your body to provide you with all kinds of information.
Do I have a choice?” you might ask.
Yes and no.  If you’re reading this, you are in a physical form that you move around to do your brain’s beckoning. You feed it, clothe it, take it to work, and allow it to rest. So in one respect, you have no choice but to embody.
But anyone who suffers from aches and pains and a general distrust or disgust of their body will tell you how preferable it is to live life from the neck up. Their choice is to check out of their bodies as often and in as many ways as possible. They might choose to medicate or obliterate with food, alcohol, drugs, or their vice of choice in order to spend as little time as possible feeling what it’s like to be in their body.
As a certified eating psychology coach and fitness instructor, I see this a lot. Most of the people I work with have a very complicated relationship with their bodies. My desire to understand this relationship is what led me to become a writer and coach.

Here’s my take-away. The present moment is all we’ve got. It’s the only time and place where we can make things happen and move forward in our lives.

This means we need to be open to receiving feedback and support from all our faculties, not just our brain. Because I don’t know about you, but my brain can be a bully.
It can have me believing all kinds of things that are just not true because it’s feeling threatened or scared. That’s why I need an entire team of truth tellers located in my heart, my belly, my back, my legs, or anywhere that might get my attention.
I do not want to be stuck in the eighth inning where I might be down 2-5 with just my brain calling the shots. I need my body on board to rally and earn a shot at the World Series.
Bob likes to remind me it’s just a game and whether my team wins or loses, my life will be the same. He may have a point. Every team and every sport have come-back stories and heroes’ journeys stories and a hundred reasons why their epic victory is destined.
But I know on the days the Cubs win my world seems a little bit brighter or more hopeful. Not just because they’ve broken a curse or done the impossible or because my Grandma would be grinning from heaven to see her Cubbies win it all, but because of how they played the game. They model for me how to be all in and present to win. That’s something I can rally around.
Who does that for you? Share if you dare in the comments below.

The Boys of Summer

ct-cubs-vs-pirates-20160619-022(photo credits – Nuccio DiNuzzo / Chicago Tribune)
Okay, so I’m not usually so interested in the boys of summer, but I have to say if a team ever embodied the How to Get Your Groove Back method I teach, it would be the Chicago Cubs.
Ever since I was little, summers were spent either listening to the lovable losers blaring on our kitchen radio, watching them on tv, or occasionally going into Chicago for a game.
My parents are snowbirds and spend their winters in Arizona. While they love Arizona, they also want to be as close to the Cubs training camp and take in as many preseason games as possible.
As long as I can remember, it’s been the same thing. A sentiment shared by the entire MLB franchise. The Cubs will choke.  If the  Curse of the Billy Goat is to be believed, the team will never win a World Series at Wrigley Field.
But like all groovy gals, guys, teams, businesses, and best sellers, where there is a will, there is a way. In the case of the Cubs, where there is a dream and a team of outstanding people capable of making that dream come true, anything is possible.
Take Wilson Contreras for example. Last night, at this rookie’s first major-league at bat in front of 41,024 fans, he hit the first pitch 417 feet over the center-field to score a two-run homer.
I happen to be watching the game because Bob, like my parents, is a bit obsessed with the Cubs. He and my dad spent Father’s Day salmon fishing in Wisconsin. Bob had just gotten home, unloaded the car, and made it as far as the couch before collapsing.
As I cuddled up next to him he declared, “Honey, you’re watching history in the making.” I asked why. He said, “It’s this guy’s first at bat in the major leagues.
My reply was, “Doesn’t every player have a first time at bat in the majors once in his career? What makes this one so special?
It defied explanation.
Clearly the crowd knew something I didn’t. All 40,000+ of them were on their feet.
And then Contreras stepped up to the plate and in front of all those adoring fans made history.
I must admit, it was wondrous.
How many hours went into making that moment possible? How many people had supported him, encouraged him, created the circumstances that made that moment absolutely perfect?
I will never know the discipline, the training, the sacrifices, the mental toughness that made the quieting of nerves, the calling in of confidence, and the summoning of superpowers possible.
But I do know we’ve all done similar things in our own version of the big leagues.
Whether you’ve delivered a speech, signed divorce papers, buried a loved one, sent a child off to college, into the military, or walked him or her down the aisle, whether you sang karaoke at your neighborhood pub, ran for office, or stood up for yourself in front of your family or organization, I know you possess the kind of courage called for when it’s your turn to step up to the plate.
You simply need to summon it on a regular basis.
It doesn’t happen without practice.
When I was startled out of sleep this morning at 1:30 am by my dog’s disagreeable dinner choice, my thoughts drifted back to the game instead of dreamland. Suddenly I was wide awake as I replayed the emotions of watching someone do precisely what he was born to do. It was thrilling to witness what love of the game, love of the work and discipline, love of the fans, love of the players and coach, and love of team made possible.
It made me think about the following.

  • What would be possible for you if you had 40,000 fans on their feet supporting, encouraging, and believing it you?
  • What would stepping up to the plate look like for you?
  • If you hit it out of the ball park, what would that mean to you?

These questions kept the sandman away for a good two hours. Maybe they will stir something up in you as well?
I love hearing what matters to you. You may even surprise yourself when you jot dot the first thing that comes to mind in the comments below.
Batter up!