Winners are successful at the endeavors they seek and do not have to be a part of any kind of sporting team or event to gain that title. So while sports may not be your thing, being successful is something most of us aspire to be. How do we teach our kids to be winners in life? What lessons can we learn from the Royals successful journey to the top of their sport? While there are many lessons, let’s focus on three.
1. Relationships Matter: Who doesn’t love a winner? Yet no one is born a winner, winners are made. Winners climb and claw their way to the top. Most revel in the moment but are quick to point out all those who helped get them to this point. That’s why Oscar winners have a long list of people to thank, and the Royals players were quick to note teammates, coaches, family, friends, fans, and even angels that have inspired them along the way. Many have also demonstrated their faith in God, or other higher being, by pointing to the sky, crossing themselves, or verbally giving thanks for the blessings they have received. No one believes they got there on their own. And what it boils down to is that finding success does not mean having the most or best talent, but comes from the belief in oneself, support and encouragement from others, the willingness to step up, and the heart to never quit. The bottom line is, “Who got you there, baby?” Relationships matter.
2. Having a plan and sticking to it, albeit with adjustments along the way, is an important step in the success process. Dayton Moore, Kansas City’s General Manager did just that. You can read all about it in his book (More Than a Season: Building a Championship Culture) or understand the value he places on relationships by this quote from Jeff Passon’s article in Yahoo News, “The Epic Story of the 2015 Royals and their World Series Championship:”
And while Moore embraced statistics, he never forsook the maxims of scouting, one of which was to focus on people, trust them and bask in their success. “You believe in ’em,” Moore said. “You knew they were going to battle, to put ourselves in a position to win. And they did it.”
Even one of Moore’s purposes for writing the book was to recognize the relationships that got both him and the Royals to this championship level as noted in Andy McCullough’s, The K Zone blog, “It allows us to give credit to a lot of the people who did much of the heavy lifting.”
Yes the plan to build a championship culture began with the foundation of focusing on the people. He not only looked at their skills, but their character and willingness to play hard. It reminds me of another great coach, Bill Snyder, who built a desolate K-State Football program by creating a culture of hard work, attention to detail, and a focus on success by recruiting men of character, and bringing them all together as family.
3. Never Give Up: Things happen that get in our way, make us feel bad, or cause us to alter our course. The bottom line is, developing the capacity to push forward in the face of adversity or frustration begins with one’s attitude. It doesn’t mean you don’t acknowledge the obstacle or lack of expertise, it means you look for a way around it or through it. You learn from mistakes – both your own and those that others make – and make adjustments. The decisions we make and the actions we take determine our course and ultimately our destiny. We don’t have to be perfect. We do have to “Keep the Line Moving” as the Royals would say.
It also takes a belief that we will find a way to succeed. Sometimes keeping that faith or belief is hard, but ultimately gets us to our goal. One of my favorite quotes speaks to the idea that many often give up just before they would have found success. Dale Carnegie was quoted as saying, “Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.” I must admit I could actually be a member of “quoteaholics” because I love them! They grace my office in books and frames and motivate me because they make me think about my own attitude and subsequent actions. Just ask my former players and students. There hardly was a day that went by that they didn’t see a quote on the board in the classroom or the locker room. Quotes aren’t actions but they spur me to action. The message here is: Find a way to succeed.
Bonus Lesson (Kids and adults need to realize this too): Sometimes it’s lonely at the top and once you get there, the pressure is on to stay there. How do we teach kids to keep on setting new goals and fending off those who would minimize their accomplishments? I’ve seen it happen all too often in school. Maybe it starts with what we see in the media. Read on.
Unfortunately as teams or individuals ascend to the top they often fall prey to those who would seek to tear them down for whatever reason. Jealousy, disappointment, second-guessing, the blame game… they all rear their ugly heads when we find success and more often if we fall short of reaching our goals. The Mets were the best team in the National League and played in the World Series, but instead of this accomplishment being celebrated throughout New York City in all venues (especially because they weren’t expected to be there), the headline in the New York Post focused on their bitter disappointment by putting them down: “Amazing Disgrace.” They did not disgrace themselves despite a couple of untimely errors and emotionally based decisions; they simply didn’t achieve the goal they had set out to. While some newspapers acknowledged that, those few papers whose headlines chose to rub salt into the wound didn’t do anything to help a deeply disappointed Mets team (or their fans) rebound for future success. Kansas City fans reveled in the 2014 World Series appearance, wondered aloud about the conservative decision to leave a runner on 3rd base to end the game, but rallied behind their team showing them the love and encouraging them to get back up and give it another run. So often things said in haste or that are negative in nature may not reflect the majority viewpoints, but seem to be the things we remember most because of the pain they cause. How we respond to disappointment of ourselves and others impacts how we perform in the future. Mistakes happen. Goals are not met. Every. Day. Relationships matter through both good times and bad; through thick and thin and yes even “til death do us part.”
In the meantime, it's time for the parade. I will be #ForeverRoyal and celebrate this 2015 World Series Championship for many years to come because I love my Royals (and of course my Wildcats) as well as my many family and friends who support me through all the many endeavors I undertake. Where would I be without you?