Today’s blog, a bit longer than usual, has a video link and analysis on the Rizzo/Ross conversation that highlights a hero’s journey and controlling one’s anxiety in the face of stress, quotes from Theo Epstein and Joe Madden to highlight how leadership directly affects players, and lessons for us from the Cubs.
Admittedly, I (like David Ross) initially missed Rizzo’s reference from the movie Anchorman, “I’m in a glass case of emotion,” as he was speaking to his teammate and mentor, David Ross. There are two notable aspects to this exchange that encapsulate the Cubs’ season. First, Rizzo has the warrior-like courage to admit he’s nervous and he also has the perfect delivery to place his anxiety in an optimal state: humor. Second, Ross, who seems to miss the reference to the movie’s quote, is seen completing what is a final stage of a hero’s journey, which is the return when one comes back in the role of mentor. Ross first positively acknowledges Rizzo’s anxiety and rather than give the poor advice to stay calm, he says, just breathe. Click the link below to see both the Rizzo/Ross exchange and the movie reference.
Now let’s take a look at the mindset of the leadership.
After winning the World Series, Joe Madden was asked about the years of drought and the curse that the Cubs had endured. He said, “If you carry around the burden of the past this win would never have happened.”
Every one of us in sport and life has a burden of the past and would benefit from embracing that notion.
In 2015, as Theo Epstein was continuing his process of building this team he said,
“More and more players are being proactive and acknowledging that’s an area (mental skills) they can get an edge. As an organization, we do so much to get our players physically ready and physically sharp, to get them fundamentally ready and fundamentally sharp. It would really be a blatant act of omission and ignorance to just ignore the mental side.”
Here is what Joe Madden said,
“It comes down to present tense, staying in the moment, understanding it’s not always going to be perfect but you can still do well.”
The Cubs have a substantial mental training program, having up to three professionals on staff for that purpose. Just listen carefully to any interview of anyone in the organization and they consistently reference the mental side of the game.
I get to work with athletes from youth to pros where I blend peak performance and mental health work. Here’s what you don’t see on TV about the Cub’s players but can replicate in your sport and life.
1. EVERY PLAYER has a team around him to help in numerous ways: coaches, trainers, physical therapist, mental trainers, nutritionists, family, friends and more. Be open to receiving guidance and assistance.
2. EVERY PLAYER works on his mental game. Old school thinking that mental training and mental health work is a sign of weakness is just plain ignorant. We just witnessed world champion players, coaches and an entire organization pay significant time and attention to their mental game.
3. EVERY PLAYER has failed. Competing has moments of immense joy and disappointment, not regret. That emotion, regret, is for those that avoid being vulnerable. Trying and failing has disappointment but is tolerable and dissipates in a short time, but regret is deeper and longer lasting. Regret for never trying sticks to your identity in harmful ways. Better to fail than to not have tried.
4. EVERY PLAYER believes he can succeed. He’ll say, “why not me, I can do it.” Sure, the result of winning is joyful, but really it’s the daily and moment to moment process that brings us deep happiness.
We are happy for the Cubs and for the city. As I watched people on TV scream “We won!” I think well no, we didn’t win, we observed, the team won. We did though, win something more significant, a chance to emulate lessons for our sport and life.