I grew up in a baseball house. The carefully oiled glove, the bat taped in a certain way, the dusty cleats lined up in the garage. The radio tuned to 700WLW, I can hear Joe Nuxhall and Marty Brennaman calling the Reds games as I lay across the back seat in my Dad’s old Pontiac Ventura. I can smell the leather of the brand new baseball and hear the crack of the bat. The sweet taste of Big League Chew and Swedish Fish at “The Complex” where my brother spent his childhood perfecting his craft, is fresh on my tongue. I have vivid memories of his teams: T-ball to “Minor” Leagues to “Majors”, High School and American Legion. There might have been that one team that my dad and brother and all of his buddies stacked, just a little bit. There had been some “discussions” with the dads of all of the best 8 year old players in the town and by some accident, all those dads volunteered to coach…on the same team. It might have coincidentally been the best team in the league that year…by a landslide. And then there was the year Dad coached my 5th grade Rec League softball team that, crazy thing, had all of my friends just “luckily” show up on the roster. But it was a time in our childhood when we played very hard, we worked very hard, and we learned not only about the game, but much about life. About being on a team, about the discipline of practice; we learned how to lose a game without losing our pride, how to win a game and stay humble. We learned about strategy and the art of the game. We learned how to pay attention to all that was happening around us. And these lessons, Dad said, are lessons for life.
Last night, the Chicago Cubs put a lot of sports fans in a win-win position: if the Chicago Cubs win, they will have broken the 108 year streak without winning a World Series Championship; if the Cleveland Indians win, they will be the team to bring two national championship titles to the city in the same year. The city that that knows little else besides loss–never a basketball championship until LeBron and boys brought it home earlier this year; no baseball accolades since 1948; and the Browns with nary a win this season and a championship title that has eluded them since 1965. So whether you celebrate in Wrigleyville or The Cleveland Flats next weekend, it’s gonna be historic! There is a buzz of excitement that each of these teams have even made it this far. They are providing some much needed levity from the depressing, angry, and hateful political season we are in, where clearly we sense we are in a win-lose, or for many of us, a lose-lose, scenario.
So why is this Win-Win such a sadly rare and unique position? Why do we all too often see our situation as win-lose, or worse, lose-lose, with the competitive, divisive, aggressive baggage that comes with that mentality? I don’t fully know the answer to that question, but I do know that much of daily life does seem, or feel, like someone has to lose in order for someone else to win. The promotion is only available for one employee; the spots in the class are only open for a few students. When we lose the job, the contract, the award, the opportunity we were hoping for, it’s really hard to see any degree of “win” in that scenario. But I believe that sometimes there is a win, even in the loss, if we just take a look from a different angle. Maybe we win by learning more about ourselves in the process of losing, or by later seeing that what we thought would have been a win was no win at all as that job/opportunity/relationship would have changed our trajectory and kept us from the sweet spot we are in now. I believe that sometimes there are these special, unique, beautiful win-win moments…where everyone can have something to celebrate, where the victory may look different from your angle, but it’s a victory nonetheless. And maybe these moments are present more often than we realize. Where the loss gains new breath as a life-lesson, in which case it was no loss at all…right, Dad?Disclaimer: My viewpoints are not necessarily reflective of my employer, or any local, regional or national organization that I belong to. As a matter of fact, I pretty much just speak for myself. Please keep that in mind.