Oh how sweet victory tastes when it is a century in the making.
The Chicago Cubs finally won the title last night in game 7 of the World Series against the Cleveland Indians in a dramatic game that went into extra innings.
And in so doing, they broke a 108-year championship drought. The once dominant baseball club fell into a decades and generations long slump after clinching the titles in both 1907 and 1908.
The century-old losing streak was often blamed, with various levels of superstition, on a fabled curse.
Legend has it that on October 6, 1945, a local pub owner bought two tickets to the World Series game against the Detroit Tigers, one for himself and one for his goat. William "Billy Goat" Sianis, owner of the Billy Goat Tavern, felt that by bringing his pet goat, Murphy, to the stadium, he would bring the team good luck. He was told that he was not allowed to bring the goat into the stadium because it smelled.
Frustrated and hurt, Sianis exclaimed, "The Cubs ain't gonna win no more," according to the story on the Billy Goat Tavern's website. And, for a half dozen decades, the Cubs, in accordance with the infamous curse, did not win any championships.
At last, though, the team did break the curse of the Billy Goat, bringing joy to so many Windy City residents. And the long-delayed victory of the Chicago Cubs can offer inspiration to anyone struggling to get through a slog of disappointments.
The Chicago Cubs suffered many losses before they were able to fly a victory flag above Wrigley Field.
So it is with chasing a dream, accomplishing a grand feat or building a business. Success stories grab the headlines and our attention, but there are undoubtedly failures and struggles that come before any big W. Even the biggest names in startup lore made many mistakes on their journeys.
"Making mistakes and experiencing setbacks is part of the DNA of every successful entrepreneur, and I am no exception," writes Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group, a multinational conglomerate with more than 60 million customers that brings in over $24 billion in annual revenues.
"Whether it is launching companies like Virgin Brides and Virgin Cola that fell flat on their face, making the wrong call on investments, or simply forgetting to return a call or send an email, I have made hundreds of mistakes. I'm sure I'll make many more this year, and learn valuable lessons from every error. Anybody who tells you they don't make mistakes has just made one," says Branson.
Generations of Chicago Cubs fans watched their team lose over and over again. And then a few more times after that. But Cubs fans stayed loyal to their team and their city.
Success is rarely, if ever, an overnight windfall delivered in a carefully wrapped package. Dreams are realized through struggle, hard work, and incredible persistence. Often, the difference between those entrepreneurs who have made it and those who haven't is the willingness to keep trying, to keep plowing ahead and to not become discouraged.
"The ability to persist on a given path regardless of setbacks, unexpected events, bad news, and resistance – to continue firmly in some state, purpose, or course of action in spite of conditions – is a trait common to those who make it," writes Grant Cardone, the entrepreneur, sales training expert and NY Times Best-Selling Author, on his blog.
"This isn't a trait that people do or do not have; it's something that can-and must-be developed. This is a quality absolutely necessary to make any dream a reality."
The Chicago Cubs recently invested a lot updating their roster with some of the best names in the business. For example, the Cubs traded the Yankees for the legendary closing pitcher Aroldis Chapman this summer. Chapman, alone, is making upwards of $11 million in a year.
And he's not even the highest paid player on the team. Right-fielder Jason Heyward and pitcher Jon Lester are bringing in more than $20 million each. The whole Cubs dugout earns almost $130 million a year, according to sports data tracking website Spotrac.
Also, the Cubs hired Theo Epstein in 2011 to lead the club as President of Baseball Operations. He has recently agreed to a five-year renewal of his contract.
The Cubs is not the first team that Epstein has brought to a World Series title. Before moving to Chicago, Epstein was the head of the Boston Red Sox, and he helped lead the team to World Series glory in both 2004 and 2007. The 2004 title was the Red Sox's first World Series title in 86 years.
While it's cinematic to envision yourself standing atop a mountain peak alone, most great achievements require a team of like-minded devotees, pulling toward a common goal. A strong support network, like the entire Chicago metro area, can provide pivotal practical and emotional help.
The Chicago Cubs were drawing on and building upon the collective momentum that comes with generations of fans pushing them on, cheering and believing.
"The Chicago Cubs winning the World Series is about more than a game, more than a team, and more than a sport," Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement congratulating the Cubs. "It is about generations who have come together around radios, televisions, and within the friendly confines of Wrigley Field to root for the home team and share triumphs and defeats. Cubs fans have never given up hope that this day was possible, and this young team made it happen."
The Cubs were technically the favorites going into the World Series, but they ended up being the underdog of the match up because after four games, they were down 3 to 1 against the Indians.
There's an intrinsic emotional adrenaline that comes with being behind. It's a fierce, primal energy born of wanting to prove your doubters wrong.
"Constantly having an underdog mentality in every aspect of life will be advantageous in all circumstances. Reframing the way we approach challenging situations can be the main difference in the results we see. Rise to the challenge, take risk, and know that it is okay if you don't succeed as long as you tried your best. It is better to make an attempt at something great then to regret passing up an opportunity," writes Dr. Michelle Cleere, a clinical psychologists with a masters in sports psychology.
"As an underdog, instead of succumbing to outside performance pressures, take on the mindset that you have nothing to lose. Leave everything you have out on the playing field. Work harder and smarter putting in the extra hours to over-prepare and you will be pleasantly surprised by the results," says Cleere, who bills herself as an elite performance expert.
The Cubs tapped that underdog energy. And now they have an invitation to the White House from President Obama.