Fr. Britto's Blog

Success & Failure

Everyone loves a winner. Whether we are die-hard Cubs fans or lifelong loyal White Sox fans, as Chicagoans, we are all proud of our Cubbies. Their relentless never-die spirit, their inexhaustible optimism and their ability to come back after being down 1-3 in the World Series have inspired us all. This well-deserved victory has infused a spring in our step and a song in our heart. In spite of all the problems facing our city and state, for a moment we can totally ignore those monumental setbacks.

I know that sports writers and experts have written long, erudite articles on this historic win. I Won’t venture to join their elite ranks. However, I would like to draw some lessons for ourselves as people of faith and especially for our young people. 

First of all, the victory was long time in the making. Someone may say, “Yes, success takes a long time but it shouldn’t take 108 years.” Only those who are persevering and patient can taste victory. Malcolm Gladwell in his great book, Outliers, makes a very important point. Individuals who have excelled in various fields such as athletics, sports, business and technology, had to invest a minimum of 10,000 hours in order to achieve that level of excellence. The dictum, “Rome was not built in a day,” holds true especially for those who excel. 

It has been reported in the news that the Ricketts family has invested a lot to build up the team. The new manager had to get rid of the old system entirely and build a new culture. The young guns who won the championship for us come with a different mindset. Due credit should also be given to the Cubs fans who never gave up on their team.

Second, failure is not fatal. Just a few years ago when the Cubs were a losing team, I myself made jokes about them. During that period there was a kid wearing a tee shirt in the Cellular Field (White Sox ballpark) and the words printed on the shirt declared: “Jesus said to the Cubs, ‘Don’t do anything until I come back!’” The team had to face many insults but they did not give up. 

Greatness is achieved only by those who can face failure. Great men and women know that failure is only a stepping stone to success. Thomas Alva Edison, the great inventor, said, “Failure is a gentle invitation to keep on trying.” He had to carry out 20,000 experiments before he found the right material to fabricate the electric lamp. A journalist asked Edison whether all those experiments with no results discouraged him. The scientist replied, “Absolutely not. Now I know that there are 20,000 things that do not work.” Such attitude differentiates winners from losers.

Third, success is the fruit of team work. From the start it was evident that this team worked together. There were no divas who wanted to outshine the others. They are all stars, but together. Even at the victory parade they gave the credit to the others. It was so refreshing to see that even after their monumental achievement these players remained humble and modest. 

One of the lessons we learn in life is that we never make it alone. From the time we are babies, we need others to survive. As the oft-quoted cliché goes, “No man is an island.” Primitive men stayed together because they could not hunt without the help of others. That is why tribes were very important. Unfortunately we have lost that sense of collaboration and solidarity. We somehow pretend that we can make it alone.

These are important lessons that we can draw from this historic victory. However, as people of faith I would like us to look at winning in another way. Unfortunately in most human endeavors what drives us is competition and rivalry. In such a context, our winning comes at the cost someone else’s loss. I cannot imagine the heartbreak that the Cleveland Indians experienced when they lost the championship after leading the series 3-1. In God’s Kingdom, we win by allowing the others to win. We win together.

This is what Jesus meant when He said, “He who saves his life will lose it. He who loses his life for My sake will keep it.” By humbling ourselves, we will be exalted. By submitting ourselves to one another, by collaborating with each other, we will all win. We are not rivals. We are not competitors. We are fellow pilgrims on the same road of life, walking towards our heavenly home.

As you read this column, our elections would have been over and winners would have been declared. Let us pray that our divided nation will begin to heal. Let us pray for a more collaborative and compassionate country where all will feel welcome because we are children of the same Father, created in the image and likeness of God.

May God bless our nation and watch over our future!

 

Who is Fr. Britto?

Born in India to deeply-committed Catholic parents, Fr Britto is one of seven children. He joined the Salesians of Don Bosco as a young man and was ordained a priest in 1981.

After he completed his priestly formation and his early education in India, he came to the US for his graduate degree in Journalism at...Read more...

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