Top 5 Career Lessons from the Chicago Cubs

By Chaim Shapiro, M.Ed

November 03, 2016

To put that in perspective, Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address during the Civil War was given 87 years after the Declaration Of Independence in 1776.  Add 21 years to that, and that is how long the Cubs futility lasted!

People often don’t remember, but the Cubs were the first team to play in three consecutive World Series (1906-1908) and the first to win back to back in 1907 and 1908…and then there was nothing for 108 years (including 71 years between World Series appearances).

As a Career Services professional, I have been thinking a lot about the Cubs and Career Success.

Here are the Top 5 Career Lessons we can learn from the Chicago Cubs.

1)  NEVER give up:  Cubs fans are famous for their optimism.  108 years is obviously a long time, but true Cubs fans approached each new season with anticipation, hoping, beyond hope, that this would be the year.

Career success doesn’t come easy for some people.  But even when the down times seem to last forever, never give up.  There is always hope.

2)  Put your heart and soul into your work-even when you fail:  When I used to go on job interviews, I would mention the fact that I am a Cubs fan (if given the chance).  Usually, that was met with laughter, but I always countered with the fact that Cubs fans like me make excellent employees. 

I pointed out that not many people can put their heart and soul into something to be met with regular, even gut-wrenching failure, and then pick themselves up and put the same passion into it, again and again.  That is a great trait for dealing with the regular ups-and-downs of the work world.

3)  Be empathetic:  The other part of the World Series story line is that the Cubs opponent, the Cleveland Indians, haven’t won the World Series since 1948.  As ecstatic as I was that the Cubs finally won it all this year, I felt terrible for the Cleveland fans.  I know their sports pain all too well, and I hope they get their chance to celebrate as well.

Be aware of the people around you at work. Some of your most joyous career moments may occur at difficult times for your colleagues.  As great as things may seem, never lose sight of the tribulations or suffering of others.  Empathy makes you a much better employee and colleague.

4)  It is NOT OVER until it is over: Cubs fans just felt that this year was different.  This was the most optimistic I have ever seen the fan base, and yet there were times when the Cubs Season was in serious jeopardy.  When the Cubs were up 3 runs in the 8th Inning of Game 7, with 4 outs to go for the Championship, and the Cubs best pitcher in the game, a Twitter friend tweeted me that she felt the game was over. 

I immediately told her that it takes 27 out to wins the game and there is nothing to celebrate, unless and until, the Cubs win.  No sooner had I said that, the Cubs gave up 3 quick runs and the game was tied going into the 9th.

A work project or a business deal may seem like a sure thing but nothing is really sure until after it is done.  There is plenty of time to celebrate accomplishments, but never celebrate prematurely.

5) NEVER be satisfied with your success:    As happy as I am that the Cubs finally won, I am not satisfied, and I hope that I can celebrate multiple championships over the next few years (like the Chicago Blackhawks).

Even when you are at the top of your professional game, there is always room for continued and greater success.  The day you are satisfied with your accomplishments is the day you stop achieving.  Keep winning those championships.  You can never be too successful…and you also never know when a 108 year drought may begin. 

Chaim Shapiro, M.Ed is Director of the Office for Student Success  at Touro College