Luck Will Have Nothing To Do With It

I’ll start by saying I’m not a huge baseball fan. My favorite sport is Formula 1 auto racing, and the season ended last week with Michael Schumacher winning his 6th World Championship. But I might have to rethink my attitude toward baseball. After being glued to the TV set the past few nights, watching the Florida Marlins and the New York Yankees NEVER give up in their playoff series, how can you NOT be a baseball fan – or not be in awe of what the game can bring out in the athletes who play it?

Was Michael Schumacher “lucky” winning his 6th World Championship? I’m doubtful luck holds through an entire season.
Also, please understand that if you’re a Chicago Cubs or Boston Red Sox fan, I feel your pain. Hey… I’m originally from Cleveland. I know all about the meaning of “…wait until next year…”

What strikes me as interesting in this playoff series, is the media’s focus on THE CURSE. It’s hard to believe, having watched what we did, that there isn’t some mysterious force out there, targeting these two teams. It’s everywhere on the news. It’s on the sports channels. It’s in the newspaper headlines. But should we really believe that sporting events are controlled by something so silly as luck or a curse? To me, giving credit to something unknown is taking credit away from the athletes who worked so hard to achieve victory. In other words, when we focus on the people who got beat, we don’t give enough credit to the effort put in by the people who won.

The NY Yankees celebrate another “lucky” win. They did have enough other wins however, to put them in the World Series again.
Isn’t it strange how the people who seem to be the luckiest, are the ones known to work the hardest? My father was a salesman, and a successful one. I always thought he was lucky to find something he really enjoyed, and made a very good living at it. Then I started to work with him, and realized just how tough it was. His philosophy was that he could expect to get 9 NOs before he got his YES. He told me stories about a few of his 9th calls… when the NO came, he jumped up, happy as could be, thanked the person and shook his or her hand. He couldn’t WAIT to get to number 10, because he KNEW the odds were in his favor. He was about to succeed… again.

My Dad never thought about the tough times between successes. He never worried about “slumps.” He certainly never thought success had ANYTHING to do with luck, or fortune. He was a “we make our own luck” type of person. His philosophy about business slumps and athletic slumps was the same: Work through them. Physical work and focus physical activity pave the path toward success.

As a competitive swimmer, I developed a pre-race habit that I carry through to my life today. Whenever I was preparing to race, my friends would say, “good luck.” The usual response I gave was, “luck will have nothing to do with it.” This may sound smug, conceited, or egotistical, but what I meant was that I either had… or hadn’t… put in the preparation to accomplish my task. If I had put in the right work, I usually succeeded. When I hadn’t, success was elusive. It was a simply philosophy, but one that virtually ALWAYS came true. Today, that same philosophy holds true. Business, parenting, and life aren’t about luck. They’re about having something to shoot for, and then going after it. It’s about living your life with passion for what you’re doing, and with passion for doing it extremely well.

What type of athlete are you? Do you wait for good things to happen? Or do you MAKE good things happen through preparation? Do you hope you’re going to accomplish your goals, or do you over prepare to ENSURE that you’ve got the best chance to achieve what you set out to do.

In my eyes, I see the Cubs and the Red Sox as athletes who have come together to accomplish a common goal. They worked very hard together, focused on that goal, and did their best to reach it. In every sport, however, there is a winner, and there is a loser. In the playoff series, there are 7 games to contend with, and they have nothing to do with the past – only the present. Victory was about preparation, execution, focus, persistence, and attitude. Especially about attitude – about not saying it’s over until the final out of the final inning of the final game.

If you don’t strive with all your might until the race is over, you allow your competition to “get lucky.” Don’t let anyone get lucky at your expense. Never give up.

My Dad also taught me that victory is a two-edged sword. For those of you who don’t quite get that right away, it’s simple to understand. Think of how excited the Yankees fans were last night, and then imagine the heartache of the Red Sox fans. We as spectators tend to be more unsportsmanlike than the players themselves. Have some compassion for the team that didn’t win – for those who may have tried their hardest but who encountered someone who had prepared and tried even harder. And remember that this is just a sport, not life and death. And there is always another game and another season. Sure, it may take another 90 years, but sooner or later the Chicago Cubs and the Boston Red Sox will be back, and playing hard again. Just wait until next year. Heck, maybe even the Cleveland Indians will have a chance. Oh… never mind… I don’t want to get ridiculous here.