What I have learned from being a long-time hockey player about running a business
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In business, it is priceless to have something that inspires you, or an experience or a passion that drives you. For me, it’s hockey.
I have been playing competitive hockey for over 25 years, with wins in league championships, scoring titles and amateur tournaments. I even had the chance to skate with the United States team just before the 1992 Olympics at the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island, where I won the end-of-session shootout.
When people ask me why I keep playing given my demanding professional responsibilities, the answer is simple: I love the competitive nature of the game and the physical and mental challenges it offers me.
Five key areas come to mind where I have found that the lessons of hockey can provide powerful insights that can help all of us in the business world.
1. Innovate and take risks
Wayne Gretzky is famous for the following quote: “You miss 100% of the photos you don’t take. “
Whenever you pass up a golden opportunity to shoot on goal, you guarantee he doesn’t get in.
In business, it’s never a bad time to innovate, which means taking risks. A corporate culture fueled by smart risk taking is one that can use change to thrive.
Today’s actions bring tomorrow’s successes. There will be some misses and setbacks along the way, but learn from them and don’t get shy.
The hesitation in hockey is a killer. Trust your instincts, take an open eye and take your photo.
Related: 4 Steps to Taking Calculated Risks That Move Your Business Forward
2. Build a multi-talented team
The teams that can play two-way hockey, “a 200-foot game”, are the ones positioned for the most success and growth. You need a mix of scorers and grinders, defensive players and playmakers.
The same is true when you are building your “roster” in the business world.
While every team needs a sales leader and a top-level sales team, the sales team is only as successful as marketing playmakers because they ensure that commitments taken by the sales team can be required.
Invest wisely in your team, but don’t forget the playmakers who lead the charge and the grinders who are in the trenches and doing what they need to do.
Related: Are You a Visionary, Executor, or Processor? Why your business needs all 3 to be successful.
3. Anticipate where the market is going
Move where the puck is going, not where it was.
Hockey is a grueling and demanding sport in which time and space are always limited. You want to have as much time as possible with the puck, and having the space to operate gives you the best chance of scoring.
In business, using analytics, researching market conditions, and forecasting your team and suppliers help you know where the puck is.
If you can access this space first, you can beat your competition before they have a chance to react. In hockey, the excitement of the puck is the key to success.
The same concept applies to businesses: being hungry to sell and being clear in your value proposition are just as important.
Related: How Successful Entrepreneurs Predict the Future
4. Pivot on the fly
In hockey and business, agility and adaptability are necessary skills as they are often required to get in and out of tight spots, to run on a dime, to make quick decisions and to pivot in order to do the best. game possible for the team, while the game continues to advance at an even faster speed. Changing the line too late can spell disaster.
When running your business, you need to make changes on the fly when something you originally planned doesn’t work.
What are sometimes referred to as “second-order capabilities” are those that allow managers and businesses to quickly read signals and then adapt, refine and redeploy or simply go “plan B” or to “plan C” as skillfully as possible, over and over again.
Related: This is the Skill Your Business Must Adopt to Thrive
5. Harness the power of teamwork
In hockey, having superior team chemistry and coordination can overcome superior skills. Throughout the history of the game, the teams that have stayed together and learned how much more the sum of the parts is than the individual parts are the teams that have won multiple championships.
In business, you need constant teamwork where systems and people communicate constantly and effectively.
As a leader, you need to make sure your people and systems communicate effectively to give your business the best chance for success.
Having a team that feels engaged and responsible for the organization’s wins and losses will bring dynamism to your business.
Pay attention to individual and collaborative values, goals, goals and metrics.
With a nod to Gretzky, the heart of hockey or business success is open ice. Find that open ice.