Tag Archives: hockey

Just Keep Pushing, or Spinning, or…

Two reminders in two days.  One unfolded in almost complete isolation and anonymity over the course of hours, and the other…well about as public it gets and it took all of 17 seconds.  A lonely road in the Mt. Hood Classic stage race, and the Stanley Cup Finals.  Two extremes yet the same lesson – never quit.  You stop working at it and your fate is sealed.  You press on and maybe, just maybe you will reach your goal.

First there was this line from a buddy as he described the last stage of a bike race on Sunday:

“Just spin and finish and all will be well!”

He was 50+ miles into a 70+ mile final stage when his body started shutting down and he lost contact with the leaders.  As he described it, he could pull over and quit, which every logical thought told him to do, or he could pedal.  Needless to say he rode through the pain.  He kept spinning, eventually caught back onto the leaders and ultimately found himself standing on the podium.  At that dark and lonely moment he had the choice:  Quit or Continue.  He carried on; slow at first, but gradually gaining speed, and ultimately gaining strength and finally success.

Then there was the Blackhawks.  The biggest stage in hockey.  An international audience.  Time was running out in the game, the Blackhawks had a choice – play on or  let the last 90 seconds wind down and head back to Chicago for game seven on their home ice.  Not only did they press on, they pulled their goalie and went all in to try to tie the game.  The video is just too good not to post…sorry Bruins fans, but the action is just too good:

Nothing too complex really…just keep grinding.  Keep moving.  Keep pushing.  Keep working it.  Keep playing.  Never give up and never quit.  Yet again the clichés of sports: “race through the finish line”, “play to the whistle”, and of course “it ain’t over ’til it’s over”. There is a reason clichés become, well clichés.  They are based in fact and have withstood the test of time.  Yet again, thanks to sports for reminding us all to stick with it, even when it seems all is lost.

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I Wanna be Like Mike…at least in this respect

 

It might not be the single easiest thing to do, but it ranks in the top ten: Telling someone else what to do. Not when or how, that is hard. But what, that is super easy.  Seems only fitting to “remind” us all of what to do…be like Mike, and Wayne too.

Last weekend it was all about Michael Jordan turning 50 – highlights, stories, interviews and just reminders of how great a player he was, as well as reminders of what a person he is and was, warts and all.  Yet it was seeing one of his quotes that struck a chord:

I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.

~Michael Jordan

For all that has been said about MJ, good and bad, past and present, it is that quote that has stayed with me.  Personally and professionally, I wish I heeded his words more often.  It is a great reminder that in the end it is all about taking action.  There are literally thousands of clichés and quotes on the topic, but coming from MJ, well it just seems to resonate a bit more.

And that of course leads to the reminder from “The Great One”:

You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.

~Wayne Gretzky

So in the spirit of taking the easy way, it seems only fair to remind myself of what to do, or in the vernacular of Nike, to “Just Do It”.  MJ and Gretzky transcended their sport, and sports in general.  They are quite literally icons.  They became what and who they are by doing.  They did not worry about missing shots, failure in general, or what others might think.  They took action, over and over again.  Sometimes they failed, but sometimes they were successful.  There is a reason they are not anonymous 50+ year olds living in North Carolina or Ontario.  Physical gifts aside, they took risks, and that made all the difference.

 

On a personal note, I was fortunate to see Michael Jordan play live just once, and yes he was that good.  Though he had his comeback, this is the way I will always think of and remember Michael Jordan, leaving the game on top…what a moment.

jordan98

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And a Few More – Olympic Lessons

In the spirit of the closing ceremonies – here are a few additional lessons learned, or at least reinforced thanks to the Olympics.

If there is one thing Vancouver 2010 taught us yet again, there is a huge value in just being nice.  Seriously, who in the world does not like Canada?  The Canadians are able to earn the respect of the world by just being nice.  Not everything went exactly to plan, and yes there was even tragedy, but in the end being nice and trying tends to win over even the greatest skeptics.

To all who toil in relative obscurity, there is the U.S. Men’s Nordic Combined  Team.  After 86 years of being shut out, along comes an amazing series of medals in both the team and individual events.  And a special nod to Billy Demong for his “hat trick” of a gold medal, an accepted marriage proposal and being chosen by his team to be the flag bearer for the closing ceremonies.  All that work that no one sees does eventually pay-off.  Sometimes, in a really big way, on a really big stage.

To Steve Holcomb and the U.S. 4 man bobsled team – another drought broken – only 62 years on this one.  But in Steve Holcomb, a reminder to all that sometimes champions do come in the all too usual shapes and sizes.  It is rare to see, but sometimes the best can really look like the guy down the street, belly and all.  Never make a judgement on the competition, or anyone else, just based on looks.

The ability to compartmentalize and focus on the task at hand is just a part of life.  In good times and bad, in adversity or elation, joy or anguish, there is a very real need to be able to push all other issues to the side and focus on what has to be done.  Joanne Rochette showed amazing focus in the face of unimaginable loss.  It was a powerful and harsh reminder that there are times when we must compartmentalize and push forward – for us and for those who are counting on us.

And lastly, to the Canadian Women’s Hockey Team – finally somebody just flat-out has fun after winning gold.  Of course it is hockey, and it is Canada, but a post match celebration complete with Molson and cigars on the ice – well done.  And to Steve Keough, the Canadian Olympic Committee spokesman and his comments about the teams post game fun: “In terms of the actual celebration,” he said, “it’s not exactly something uncommon in Canada.”  Awesome!  In our all too sterile and politically correct, hide our emotions and only have “fun” within the bounds of “proper decorum” world,  it is so nice to see a team just enjoy the moment on their terms.  And to see “management” back their people – incredibly refreshing.  Well done on all fronts.

Yes the Olympics are a grandiose ideal.  A utopian vision of peace and harmony, of athletic competition in the name of excellence for the sole purpose of bringing people together.  Reality says it is a money-making machine.  Packaged and feed to us in a sterilized and commercialized manner.  The cynic says it is all corporations and sponsors, or just state sponsored propaganda wrapped up in an outlandish ideal of fringe sport silliness.  Whatever.  Sometimes it is worth it every few years to take a few moments and take in the spectacle that is Olympic sport.  Maybe we might learn a lesson or two along the way.

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