Sunday, January 22, 2012

Raising Your Game to a New Level

After all these years of being a Canadian, I’ve finally decided to go for it. I didn’t plan on this happening. In fact, I was taken aback by the whole thing.  After years of trying to avoid hockey conversations with family, friends and the rest of Canadian society, I have come to a point where I decided to embrace the game of hockey. I picked my favourite team: the Pittsburgh Penguins.  And while I have a lot to learn about hockey (for example, did you know the term “icing” isn’t just used when talking about cakes?), I am on my way! What appeals to me about the sport is not really the game itself, but the way it’s played. Hockey players and athletes in general, demonstrate traits that all of us can use to create some wins in our lives.
What most attracts me to the game is the way it’s played with passion. These guys have passion and love for the sport oozing out of them. Passion is captivating and people like being around those who are enthusiastic and excited. What are you passionate about? Have you forgotten what passion feels like? Anil Bhatnagar said, “You can do without passion only if you can do without life because it is passion alone that determines the extent to which you are alive.”
Take time to rediscover what you find joy in. As Nike says, “just do it!” It doesn’t matter if you get paid for it or not. Doing something you’re passionate about is its own reward.
Something else which I’ve learned from watching hockey is that many of the players spend a lot of time practicing in order to excel at their game.  We can make the decision to perform our everyday chores and activities with excellence the way an athlete would when they’re practicing or playing their sport. We feel better about ourselves if we give a little bit more than what’s required and do the task with a positive attitude.   
Can you give more when you’re cleaning, picking up your kids, or answering calls and emails at work? Can you do these things with more effort, enthusiasm, or kindness? As Dale Carnegie so wisely said, “Don't be afraid to give your best to what seemingly are small jobs.  Every time you conquer one it makes you that much stronger.  If you do the little jobs well, the big ones will tend to take care of themselves.” 
Finally, great hockey players are team players.  They defend their goalies, block shots, and play for the best possible outcome for their team. Who is your team? Is it your family? Your  friends? Your  co-workers? The rest of humanity? Yes. All the people on the planet are on your team. Are you watching out for them and looking out for their best interests? Or, are you just focused on your own agenda?  Are you jealous of other teammates who seem to get more attention, have more talent, or make more money?
It’s easy to get caught up in our own thoughts, plans and lives rather than focus on how to make life better for others. We have the tendency to be self-absorbed, and we forget about the welfare of others.  As I wrote about in The Boomerang Effect of Giving, can you take time out of your day to help others either by giving time, money or encouragement? Can you celebrate and be genuinely happy for other people’s wins? Doing so will raise your game to a whole new level.
So, whether you’re a hockey player, a fan or someone who can’t stand hockey, there are lessons we can all learn from the game. There’s a famous hockey quote by the late Penguins coach "Badger" Bob Johnson who said, “It’s a great day for hockey!”   Choose to make every day a great day by living with passion, excellence and supporting your “team.”  Oh, and one more thing...go Penguins!!!

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