Earlier this week the Chicago Cubs won their first World Series title in 108 years. This World Series win rewarded patience, redeemed and reinvigorated a franchise, and created storylines that we are just now beginning to understand. As for Bill Murray’s Daffy Duck, we’ll likely never understand that.
I’ll confess I did not think they could pull it off down 3-1 going back to Cleveland. Ridiculous respect to the club. It should also be noted that they were down three runs in game 3 in San Francisco; down a game to the Dodgers and then won three straight. Much love for the fans too because, as a Red Sox fan, I know what it feels like to wait and want, want and wait.
If this World Series was about curse-breaking, it was also about star-making. Arietta is a stud. Lester is clutch. Hendricks has ice-water in his veins. The Bryant, Russell, Baez, Rizzo infield is slick and set up to rake for years. Joe Madden proved he can do it in a major market. Theo Epstein showed again that he may just be the smartest man in the room.
This victory also put another ring on David Ross’ finger, sending him off into retirement in storybook fashion. His performance between the lines was excellent–hello Game 7 home run!–yet it didn’t touch his dugout performance. He was the veteran leader on a team with studs with issues and in a city with baggage. They called him “Gramps” but maybe “Guru” would be more appropriate.
This was most apparent in the clip that FOX caught in Game 7, in which Rizzo discusses his emotions with Ross.
Ross: “Talk to me.”
Rizzo: “I can’t control myself right now. I’m trying my best.”
Ross: “It’s understandably so, buddy. I hear you.”
Rizzo: “I’m an emotional…I’m an emotional wreck.”
Ross: “You’re…it’s only going to get worse. Just continue to breathe. That’s all you can do, buddy. That’s all you can do. It’s only going to get worse.”
Rizzo: “I’m in a glass case of emotions right now.”
Ross: “Yeah, yeah. Wait ’til the ninth with this three run lead.”
Analyzing this exchange, we can begin to synthesize David Ross’ “Tao Of A World Series Title.” I’m not a councillor and I have zero Big League credentials; nevertheless, I’ve been involved in schools and sports long enough to know that this wisdom is worthy of exploration.
Ross’ wisdom falls into three stages: appreciation, validation and anticipation. These stages can be seen as skills, skills that we can all learn. Ross no-doubt developed these skills in his time in the game and leaned on them in crucial situations.
I think all coaches and educators can learn from Ross. I for one will try. First day of school? Try it on. Big test coming up? Got you, buddy. Rival game ahead? Let’s check in. Post season pressure? I’m here.
Let’s look at these stages briefly, one at a time.
Appreciation – Ross has learned that you won’t get far in a conversation unless you first meet people where they are. People need to be heard. They also need to know you want to hear from them. “Talk to me,” Ross said. This direct approach works give the trust they have based on close to 200 games together this season. In other instances a more open-ended approach might work: “Can we talk?” “When you’re ready, let’s talk. Okay?” As manager Joe Madden said at the celebration rally, “…process the moment, stay in the moment, and are able to move on from a negative situation to a positive one…” This brings teams together and creates teachable moments that serve student-athletes in everything they do.
Validation – They also need to know that you’ve been there before. “I appreciate how you feel.” “How you feel is real and right for you right now.” “Man, I’ve felt that way before too.” As Ross himself said, “It’s understandably so, buddy. I hear you.” This put the players here–or the people anywhere–on equal ground to help they make the move to the next step together. This can go south here, however, and it’s usually when the mentor/teacher/manager/Ross-like figure shares too much, making it about him/herself and no the person seeking counsel. These don’t ever get anyone ahead: “So let me tell you about…” or “So there was this one time…” or the worst of all “When I was your age…” We are here for you and us, not me.
Anticipation – To set the soul searcher on his/her own course is to give him/her information necessary to anticipate next steps. What’s next? What can I do to prepare? When will things get worse? When will they get better? When will things seem like they’re going better, but they’re really not? These landmarks are often related to time–macro or micro. Typically this are related to how to throttle emotion and effort to make it further than one has ever had to before. This could be a longer season, from a college or minor league schedule to a big league one. This could be more and more frequent intense bursts over the same period of time. Professionals figure it out. Athletes figure it out. Champions figure it out. Ross has figured it out.
Congratulations to the Cubs and kudos to David Ross!