The Atlanta Braves are once again playing for a World Series. The last time we had such an opportunity, I was just learning to drive.
This run surely doesn’t seem all that possible. After coming within a game of the World Series in 2020, it sure didn’t look like 2021 would be our year. After all, this is a team that wasn’t even above .500 until August.
But the Braves have heated up at just the right time, and now they are a few wins away from their first world championship since 1995. I had so much more hair then.
The team’s turnaround and ascension present a few lessons for us as we all try to get our hands on success.
Don’t be afraid to try (and invest in) a new way
Did I mention these Braves had a losing record until late in the summer? When Major League Baseball’s trade deadline approached at the end of July, it would have made sense if Atlanta decided to cut its losses and trade away a few star players in hopes of a better next year.
Instead, the Braves traded for Jorge Soler, Adam Duvall, Joc Pederson and Eddie Rosario — an entirely new starting outfield.
The investment has paid off. All four players started Game 1 of the World Series — Soler and Duvall hit home runs. Rosario was the MVP of the National League Championship Series. Pederson has delivered one critical RBI after another and has made pearls the most popular necklace in Atlanta.
Without the bold direction from the Atlanta management, this run to — let alone through — the playoffs doesn’t happen.
Lean into adversity and keep working
Again, it doesn’t make that much sense that Atlanta is in the World Series. Consider that the Braves lost Ronald Acuna, regarded as the team’s best player and life force, to a knee injury in early July. I remember thinking at the time that Acuna’s injury would close the book on this season.
Instead, the team rallied and used the loss as a catalyst. They responded the same way in Game 1 earlier this week when starting pitcher Charlie Morton had to end his game and season with a leg injury.
Even when they have lost games in back-breaking fashion — like after the bullpen collapsed and gave away Game 3 of the NLCS — the Braves have come back the next day swinging like mad and ready to fight, smiling all the way.
May we all respond to adversity with such optimism and urgency.
And may the Braves find a way to win one more game.