Cubbies Win, Cubbies Win!

This week’s post was written by Scott Peterson.

In the 1989 film, Back to the Future II, the main character, Marty McFly, saw the Cubs winning the World Series in the year 2015. As it turns out, the film was only off by one year! Now, what does the Cubs winning a few baseball games have to do with leadership? Well, more than you might think.
The Journey – 108 Years

In the United States, the average attention span of an individual on a phone is six seconds. Think on this for a moment: one, two, three, four, five six – swipe and move on. The Cubs and their fans waited over 100 years for a World Series title; that’s a lot of attention and patience.

The following statistics on the ye1908 may provide additional perspective:

  • Theodore Roosevelt was president and we have had less than 20 presidents since;
  • Five generations (e.g. parents of the Baby Boomers generation were just born);
  • The population of Las Vegas, NV was roughly 30 people;
  • New Mexico, Arizona, Alaska and Hawaii were not official states;
  • The speed limit in most cities was around 10 mph; and
  • The average wage was $0.22 per hour.
We think a long time is days or weeks, when really long time might be a few years. This was more than a century and I still have a hard time contemplating the timeframe.

Leader Moments

Winning the World Series was not an event, it was a quest. Here is the story line:
  • In 2009, J. Joseph bought the Cubs and hired Theo Epstein to lead the team as President.  Epstein was the President of the Red Sox when they ended their World Series drought. Epstein, along with several other leaders, set a vision of how the Cubs would win it all. This vision included the culture they wanted, from the front office to the players to the managers to the scouts to their relationship with their minor league teams. This vision was their target and their game plan!
  • Between 2009 and 2014, the team made many changes from the manager to players. All of the changes were made with the backdrop of their vision. The entire Cubs organization started to believe in the vision; at least a little.
  • Then in 2015 the Cubs had success and made the playoffs. However, they did not make it to the World Series and their vision was truly tested. Would the vision pass the test or would it fail?
  • “W” in 2016. The Cubs embraced their destiny and win it all. From the very beginning of the season, they believed 2016 would be the year – their year – the Cubs’ year. They had a great start to the season, stayed humble, stayed focused, and embraced their vision.
  • Game 7 – what a game! The Cubs had the lead and then lost it; they did not have momentum on their side. Then, a rain delay. During this 17 minute period, the leaders seized the moment.  They could have hung their heads, but instead they leaned on their faith in the vision. After the rain delay, they came back out and did the unimaginable. The Cubs won the World Series. The vision was tested during Game 7 and during the rain delay, just like it was tested in 2015. The team embraced the test. It was their mental toughness, leadership, and passion for the vision that made winning the World Series a reality.
The Cubs winning the World Series is an incredible journey and a fun story to discuss. Just remember that you and your team have that same opportunity to create a vision and achieve great things. That vision will be tested and when it is, make the most of it. Lean in to that test, have patience, be persistent, and encourage your team to let their passion shine. When you succeed, it’s time to let the champagne flow and celebrate. That is winning and leading the Interstates (and Cubs) way!

Continue leading the Interstates way!
Scott Peterson


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