Take, for instance, the 2019 Washington Nationals, who are battling the Houston Astros this week in the World Series. The Nats are competing for their first championship in the 51-year history of the franchise, and they very well might get it. This Washington team is rolling into the championship series after already upsetting the National League-favorite Los Angeles Dodgers and then dismantling the St. Louis Cardinals. They are a confident, connected bunch on the doorstep of doing something truly remarkable, especially when you consider where they’ve come from. It wasn’t all that long ago that many people thought this was a team on the brink of collapse.
Despite high hopes heading into the season, Washington floundered. In fact, when they lost their 50th game of the season to the New York Mets on May 23rd, their season record stood at a paltry 19-31. Only one other team in the entire league had a worse record at that point, and there was very little evidence on the field that this Nationals team would do anything except underachieve. But despite the many outsiders – “experts,” even – who were ready to throw dirt on this team and bury them for good, the players and coaches persevered. They kept competing. They held on to that hope. And little by little, they left their terrible start behind. They moved up the standings, caught fire at just the right time, and stormed their way to a place most people had given up believing they could go: to the doorstep of a World Series title.
I hope of course that you can achieve all the success you’ve envisioned for the season ahead, and that it all comes your way easily and conveniently from beginning to end…but let’s be honest. That won’t be the story of your season, even if it does end successfully. Challenge and adversity are coming for you and your team this year, just as they do for every team. Maybe your group won’t start as well as everyone anticipated. Maybe some individuals – including you, even – will find themselves in the midst of an unexpected slump. Maybe at some point the ball just won’t bounce your way. Whatever it is that comes to challenge you and your team, take a lesson from the 2019 Washington Nationals. Stay in the fight. Persevere. Find the strong belief, the deep determination, and the stubborn will it takes to hold on to your hope and keep competing. You might be surprised to find out what’s possible if you do.