The NHL playoffs are on in the US and the Australian Ice Hockey League has begun its 2012 season.
It’s heaven for hockey fans.
All this puck action got me thinking about what entrepreneurs can learn about hockey.
In America, the Stanley Cup playoffs are massive event on the national sporting calendar. Hockey is also entrenched across the Northern Hemisphere where most people it can be argued, are born with skates on.
In Australia, it’s a sport rising in popularity, but still largely unknown to many. So, while you may not know much about hockey, as an entrepreneur there are many things you can learn from the sport and the attitudes of its players.
You may think I’m grasping at straws, but bear with me.
1. Where you come from helps, but it does not control your destiny
If you have plans to play in the NHL, it’s a distinct advantage to be born in a cold climate. One where, each winter, you create a rink in your back yard and play pond hockey. With our client, this is not likely to happen in Australia.
There is yet to be an Australian to make it into the NHL. Yet, there is a contender. Sydney lad, Nathan Walker, is tipped to be the first to enter the American league.
At just 17, Walker has been living in Europe for several years, away from his family, to pursue his passion. Stars of the Melbourne Ice team, brothers Vinnie and Joey Hughes, also moved to the northern hemisphere as young teens, leaving their parents behind, to play hockey.
Despite the fact that these guys grew up in a country without much snow or a hockey following, they became hockey players. Good ones.
I think about people who have given up jobs, homes and relationships to start a company or, move to Silicon Valley to achieve their dreams. It’s not about where you’re from, it’s about what you want to do. And, how badly you want it.
It’s a dogged pursuit of their passion, that drives entrepreneurs, and indeed hockey players.
2. Gretzky got it right
Wayne Gretzky is considered to be the greatest hockey player ever. His nickname is “The Great One”.
While having a nickname as awesome as that may be the secret desire of many an entrepreneur, this isn’t the parallel I’m about to draw.
Gretzky has a mantra about the most important thing in hockey; getting in control of the puck. This is one quote every entrepreneur should have nailed to their wall:
Skate to where the puck is going, not to where it’s been.
It’s a guiding principle for life, business, the universe and, well, everything.
3. You’re never too old or battered
As I said before, the big names in hockey like Gretzky, Lundqvist, Zetterberg, Giroux, Crosby and the rest, all began to skate as they learned to walk. But, it’s never to late to start to play hockey, or be an entrepreneur.
Hockey players are famous for their ability to, quite simply, keep playing. A New York Islander player was once hit by a truck, got up and rather than seek medial assistance said “I’m a hockey player, I’ve got to go play some hockey now.” And he did.
The more hits you take, the more determined you become. Only entrepreneurs, and hockey players, are mad enough to understand this attitude.
Take inspiration from Diane Pieknik, a 65 year old rookie player and life long fan of the mighty Detroit Red Wings. She’s been beaten, battered, and at times broken, but she gets back up and keeps playing.
While Pieknik may not hold the Stanley Cup aloft in a moment glory, she has a view on measuring success that every entrepreneur should hold dear:
Success is getting up, one more time than you’ve been knocked down.
So, get out there, score some goals, put the biscuit in the basket, the puck into the net.
Or, close some deals, make that pitch, build that business.
Just keep going.
Entrepreneurs and hockey players, who knew they had so much in common.