Hi Everyone and welcome back to the Hockey Journey Podcast, episode number 64, Sports Stories, presented to you by Online Hockey Training.com. I'm your host Coach Lance Pitlick. If you're new here, please make sure you subscribe, so you won't miss out on any future episodes.
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As long as I can remember, sports have been part of my life. My earliest memory of some sport meaning something more than others, happened at my Grandma Grace and Grandpa Boyd's lake place every summer. For years, I'd spend a couple weeks with them at the end of June, early July, enjoying cottage life, fishing with my Grandpa, playing yard games with neighboring kids, swimming and boating, as well as consuming large amounts of my Grandma's chocolate chip pancakes.
The other event that was part of our everyday when I was with them, was the tennis tournament Wimbledon. If you're not into tennis, Wimbledon is the oldest tennis tournament in the world and if you had to pick one tournament as the best in the world, most would agree that Wimbledon is the most prestigious, since it's first event back in 1877.
I'd go fishing with my Grandpa in the morning, we'd come back to a full breakfast spread my Grandma had prepared and get filled in on all that happened, or was about to happen at Wimbledon. I never played organized tennis, only messing around with my buddies once in a while throughout the summer and I never, ever, watched tennis on TV when I was at home. But for those two weeks I spent at my grandparents place every summer, I was the biggest tennis fan on the planet!
What I remember loving about my time with them and that tournament, was our connection together with the buildup of the tournament. We'd all have our favorites that would rise to the challenge or have a hiccup and miss an opportunity. The only sports I played growing up were team sports, not individual ones like golf or tennis. I don't know why, but I was drawn to the stories, day after day of perseverance, overcoming obstacles and somehow performing at the highest of level. I was hooked on the chase for the championship.
Since those summer experiences, I've never been a die-hard sports fan, but have always paid attention and watched the ends of most pro sports seasons. I remember watching national championship college football games with my uncle Todd and not being a football fan, but loving it. I've never been much of a basketball fan, but was glued to the TV set when Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls ruled the basketball universe.
The Olympics was another competition that I spent a lot of time viewing growing up. I would never watch a gymnastics meet, fencing tournament, wrestling match or weight lifting competition any other time during the year, but when the Olympics rolled around, I watched everything. In 1980, everything got amplified for me once the US beat the Russian's in Lake Placid, New York. I was at our local YMCA playing floor hockey with my buddies, when we started hearing about the epic game.
This viewing trend continued into my professional hockey career, as I wasn't a baseball fan, but every training camp, in the evening, I'd be watching the World Series, staying up way later than I should have when games went into extra innings. For me, I just loved watching these individuals and teams come together, overachieve and triumph in the most difficult of circumstances.
My attentiveness to all of these sports accomplishments was intensified once my hockey playing career was over. The memories of losing the PeeWee Hockey State Championship game, or in college, losing to Harvard, in over-time for the National Championship. And, after 393 games in the NHL, I never got past the 2nd round as a player.
I remember year after year, once I hung up the blades for good, my wife couldn't understand why I wanted to always watch the moments after the Stanley Cup was won. I wanted to see the faces of all the players, on both sides of the fence, in victory and in defeat. I knew one side, but for some reason, I couldn't explain, I needed to see what it would have been like if I could have had that one wave that comes in and is perfect on the last day of the season. I only had one year in my career, where I truly thought we had a shot at winning a cup, and that was my first year down with the Florida Panthers. We lost in the first round.
Just over 20 years have passed since I was a player and the memories of those times have faded. New experiences now occupy that former space, but now not of me, but of others close to me. As I've mentioned in past episodes, I'm an avid reader or listener of books, attempting to read at least 10 pages a day and/or listening to a book for 15-20 minutes. It's not hard to do anymore, as I'm always looking forward to what is to come in the following pages.
During my playing days, I liked Stephen King and James Patterson, sprinkling in some self-help books as well. But after retiring from the National Hockey League and not even getting close to winning a Stanley Cup, my curiosity to witness people triumphing at the highest levels, somehow performing perfecting during a playoff run, or pulling off the impossible at an event or tournament continues to grow year after year.
These sports moments and the characters who played their particular role, happen all the time to people, but for most of us, if we've even heard of the story, we rarely know the full journey, and all that went into preparing for that moment in time. For today's episode on the Hockey Journey Podcast, I want to share with you some fantastic sports stories that inspired me and I hope they'll do the same for you.
For the following books I'm going to reference, know that I'm only scratching the surface of all the learning nuggets in each of the titles. If something resonates with you from a certain book, by the end of this episode, I highly encourage you to pick up a copy of your own and read it in its entirety. I'll put the links to each of the titles in the description. With that being said, let's begin.
Book Number One
The Way of the Fight
By George ST-Pierre
“My goal here is to write the greatest book ever written, including these words about fear. It doesn’t make any difference that this happens to be the first book I’ve ever written. What matters most is the spirit in which it’s being written—and, quite simply, that it’s being written. The purpose is to become the best writer in my category (yes, page for page and pound for pound). I’m just not sure what the category is yet, and I’m not sure I should care. The reason behind writing this book is that I’d like to find a way to tell you my story in a different way than it has already been told. In a way, my life can be explained through mathematics and equations. It’s really simple: from the moment I started learning and acquiring knowledge, I realized how much there was left to learn. About fighting, about diet. About love and life. About fear! About dinosaurs, even. So the equation works like this: The more I learn, the less I know. Yes, more is less. That’s the way it works in my mind. And it applies to all of us, not just me. For me,that’s the secret to a big part of my life and how I became who I am.” (End Quote)
“Another powerful Aristotelean term I heard used by a good friend is arete. It’s a Greek word with no real equivalent in any other language as far as I can tell, but basically arete is about looking into your own soul and not only discovering what it is that can make you great, but also identifying the source of that greatness and activating it every single day of your life. It’s the well you draw from when there’s no other resource. It’s the absolute truth that sits in the deepest part of your soul.” (End Quote)
SACRIFICES VS. DECISIONS
“The key has always been simple, though: discovery. Even though other people had started voicing their opinions on my potential, I remained silent. Until I discovered exactly what it is that I wanted to do: become a mixed martial artist. That discovery gave belief to my inner dreams because I started seeing the concrete possibility that I could become a fighter, a true fighter. And so the change was going from having visions about my life to living them concretely. At this stage in my life I left many, many things behind. I constantly heard Kristof’s words whispered in my ear, and it triggered a reaction inside me and I realized: this is what I want to do. I want to become champion of the world in mixed martial arts. And then, all of my energy, everything I had inside of me, went toward achieving that goal. I wasn’t making sacrifices anymore, I was making decisions. Train instead of party. Work instead of play. Perfect practice instead of casual repetition. I started living life with purpose and direction. In the words of Buddha, ‘First, intention; then, enlightenment.’” (End Quote)
PRACTICE BEING COURAGEOUS
“Don’t get me wrong: fear can be a good thing, and there’s no way you can eliminate it from your life. In fact, eliminating fear from your life is a lie, or it’s a mental illness. That’s it, nothing more. Anyone who says they don’t feel fear is a liar. Guys who say they don’t feel fear are full of shit or they’re plain crazy. Major denial issues. I remember hearing a story about soldiers going into battle and showing no fear, and the guy said it was really simple (I’m paraphrasing here): ‘There are two kinds of men: those who want togo out and fight—the crazy ones—and the ones who are afraid to go, but they go anyway. They’re the courageous ones.’ I realized at this moment that it takes fear to make a person courageous. And I like that, because courage says something about you. The result is that, after a while, you get practice at being courageous. You understand how to move forward against fear, how to react in certain situations. You just get better. It doesn’t mean you stop feeling fear—that would be careless—but it means you have earned the right to feel confidence in the battle against fear.” (End Quote)
Bonus Quote #5
CRAZY DREAMS AND LONG JOURNEYS
“The first time I told my dad I wanted to be world champion in mixed martial arts, he thought I was nuts. It was my dream, sure, but everything begins with a dream, and it felt real inside my head. It was hard to talk about, and harder for others to understand or visualize. But I’ve alwayshad premonitions, feelings and visions that felt like they belonged to me and me alone. Like the future sometimes takes place inside my head. But this isn’t a good thing if the future looks bleak. The loss to my hero Matt Hughes, for example. I saw it. From the staredown, where I couldn’t even look at him and averted my eyes to the rafters. I lived the events inside my head long before the fight. I believed deep inside of me that I’d be champion someday, but I also felt this wasn’t the right time. The importance of the feeling, though, is that it put me on a path. Luckily, I know that each journey begins with one step, and is followed by another.” “Think about climbing a mountain. If you decide you’re going up Everest, you don’t start with a sprint. You’ll never make it out of base camp if you do that. The secret is twofold: make sure your approach is consistent and steady so that you can maintain the progress you’re making as your journey continues.” (End Quote)
Bonus Quote #6
“Do you want to know what I like best about myself? The truth is, I’ve become ‘great’ at maybe one thing: dedication. I’ve never been the fastest, or the strongest, or the biggest, or the quickest, or the most powerful. In life, we all discover at some point or other that there’s someone else out there who’s better at any single thing than we are. I’ve found a way to turn what some call hard work into a game and an exercise in efficiency. I turned garbage collection into a race because it’s good cardiovascular exercise, because it’s good power training, and because it makes the day go by faster. Efficiency for me is an obsession, anaddiction. It not only helps me get stronger, but makes things simpler. It helps me transcend my momentary negative inclinations. It gets me to the gym when I don’t feel like going. The ancillary benefit is good habits. Food tastes better, too.” (End Quote)
Book Number Two
A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court
By Coach John Wooden with Steve Jamison
“Happiness is in many things. It’s in love. It’s in sharing. But most of all, it’s in being at peace with yourself knowing that you are making the effort, the full effort, to do what is right.” (End Quote)
BECOMING A LITTLE BETTER EVERY DAY
“When I was teaching basketball, I urged my players to try their hardest to improve on that very day, to make that practice a masterpiece. Too often we get distracted by what is outside our control. You can’t do anything about yesterday. The door to the past has been shut and the key thrown away. You can do nothing about tomorrow. It is yet to come. However, tomorrow is in large part determined by what you do today. So make today a masterpiece. You have control over that. This rule is even more important in life than basketball. You have to apply yourself each day to become a little better. By applying yourself to the task of becoming a little better each and every day over a period of time, you will become a lot better. Only then will you be able to approach being the best you can be. It begins by trying to make each day count and knowing you can never make up for a lost day.”
Mr. Wooden continues on the topic:
“When you improve a little each day, eventually big things occur. When you improve conditioning a little each day, eventually you have a big improvement in conditioning. Not tomorrow, not the next day, but eventually a big gain is made. Don’t look for the big, quick improvement. Seek the small improvement one day at a time. That’s the only way it happens—and when it happens, it lasts.” (End Quote)
GIVING THANKS FOR OUR BLESSINGS
“So often we fail to acknowledge what we have because we’re so concerned about what we want. We fail to give real thanks for the many blessings for which we did nothing: our life itself, the flowers, the trees, our family and friends. This moment. All of our blessings we take for grantedso much of the time. A wise person once observed, “How much more pleasant this world would be if we magnified our blessings the way we magnify our disappointments.” (End Quote)
THE GUIDING STAR OF PERFECTION
“Perfection is what you are striving for, but perfection is an impossibility. However, striving for perfection is not an impossibility. Do the best you can under the conditions that exist. That is what counts.” (End Quote)
Bonus Quote #5
THE REALISTIC OPTIMIST
“I believe one of my strengths is my ability to keep negative thoughts out. I am an optimist. I believe this results from the fact that I set realistic goals—ones that are difficult to achieve, but within reach. You might say I’m a realistic optimist. Goals should be difficult to achieve because those achieved with little effort are seldom appreciated, give little personal satisfaction, and are often not very worthwhile. However, if you set goals that are so idealistic there’s no possibility of reaching them, you will eventually become discouraged and quit. They become counter-productive. Be a realistic optimist.”
A little more Coach Wooden sprinkles:
“Youngsters are told, “Think big. Anything is possible.” I would never go that strong. I want them to think positively, but when you think big you often start thinking too big, and I believe that can be very dangerous. Wanting an unattainable goal will eventually produce a feeling of “What’s the use?” That feeling can carry over into other areas. That is bad... We should keep our dreams within the realm of possibility— difficult but possible—and make every effort to achieve them.” (End Quote)
Bonus Quote #6
THE FUNDAMENTALS OF SUCCESS
“I believe in the basics: attention to, and perfection of, tiny details that might be commonly overlooked. They may seem trivial, perhaps even laughable to those who don’t understand, but they aren’t. They are fundamental to your progress in basketball, business, and life. They are the difference between champions and near champions. For example, at the first squad meeting each season, held two weeks before our first actual practice, I personally demonstrated how I wanted players to put on their socks each and every time: Carefully roll the socks down over the toes, ball of the foot, arch and around the heel, then pull the sock up snug so there will be no wrinkles of any kind.”
“If you spend too much time learning the tricks of the trade, you may not learn the trade. If you’re working on finding a short cut, the easy way, you’re not working hard enough on the fundamentals. You may get away with it for a spell, but there is no substitute for the basics. And the first basic is good, old-fashioned hard work.” (End Quote)
Bonus Quote #7
WOODEN’S DEFINITION OF SUCCESS
“I finally coined my definition [of success] in 1934: Success is peace of mind that is the direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did yourbest to become the best that you are capable of becoming. Furthermore, only one person can ultimately judge the level of your success—you. Think about that for a moment. I believe that is what true success is. Anything stemming from that success is simply a byproduct, whether it be the score, the trophy, a national championship, fame, or fortune. They areall by-products of success rather than success itself, indicators that you perhaps succeeded in the more important contest. The real contest, of course, is striving to reach your personal best, and that is totally under your control. When you achieve that, you have achieved success. Period! You are a winner and only you fully know if you won.” (End Quote)
Bonus Quote #8
IMPROVING THE TEAM BY IMPROVING OURSELVES
“The best way to improve the team is to improve ourselves.” (End Quote)
Book Number 3
A Memoir by the Creator of Nike
By Phil Knight
“What remains, however, is this one comforting certainty, this one anchoring truth that will never go away. At twenty-four I did have a Crazy Idea, and somehow, despite being dizzy with existential angst, and fears about the future, and doubts about myself, as all young men and women in their midtwenties are, I did decide that the world is made up of crazy ideas. History is one long processional of crazy ideas. The things I loved most—books, sports, democracy, free enterprise—started as crazy ideas.For that matter, few ideas are as crazy as my favorite thing, running. It’s hard. It’s painful. It’s risky. The rewards are few and far from guaranteed. When you run around an oval track, or down an empty road, you have no real destination. At least, none that can fully justify the effort. The act itself becomes the destination. It’s not just that there’s no finish line; it’s that you define the finish line. Whatever pleasure or gains you derive from the act of running, you must find them within. It’s all in how you frame it, how you sell it to yourself.” (End Quote)
HOW’S YOUR CRAZY IDEA? (DON’T STOP!)
“So that morning in 1962 I told myself: Let everyone else call your idea crazy . . . just keep going. Don’t stop. Don’t even think about stopping until you get there, and don’t give much thought to where ‘there’ is. Whatever comes, just don’t stop. That’s the precocious, prescient, urgent advice I managed to give myself, out of the blue, and somehow managed to take. Half a century later, I believe it’s the best advice—maybe the only advice—any of us should ever give.” (End Quote)
NIKE = VICTORY
“On my left was the Parthenon, which Plato had watched the teams of architects and workmen build. On my right was the Temple of Athena Nike. Twenty-five centuries ago, per my guidebook, it had housed a beautiful frieze of the goddess Athena, thought to be the bringer of ‘nike,’ or victory. It was one of the many blessings Athena bestowed. She also rewarded the dealmakers. In the Oresteia she says, ‘I admire . . . the eyes of persuasion.’ She was, in a sense, the patron saint of negotiators. I don’t know how long I stood there, absorbing the energy and power of that epochal place. An hour? Three? I don’t know how long after that day I discovered the Aristophanes play, set in the Temple of Nike, in which the warrior gives the king a gift—a pair of new shoes. I don’t know when I figured out that the play was called Knights. I do know that as I turned to leave I noticed the temple’s marble facade. Greek artisans had decorated it with several haunting carvings, including the most famous, in which the goddess inexplicably leans down . . . to adjust the strap of her shoe.” (End Quote)
A BILLIONAIRE GETTING HIS CREDIT CARD DECLINED
“The first time, the clerk at the rental car company declined my credit card. Then confiscated it. When Cale tried to smooth it over, offering up his credit card, the clerk said he wouldn’t accept Cale’s card, either, because Cale was with me. Guilt by association. Talk about your deadbeats. I couldn’t bring myself to look Cale in the eye. Here we were, adozen years out of Stanford, and while he was an eminently successful businessman, I was still struggling to keep my head above water. He’d known I was struggling, but now he knew exactly how much. I was mortified. He was always there at the big moments, the triumphant moments, but this humiliating little moment, I feared, would define me in his eyes. Then, when we got to the factory, the owner laughed in my face. He said he wouldn’t consider doing business with some fly-by-night company he’d never heard of—let alone from Oregon.” (End Quote)
Bonus Quote #5
BUSINESS, RED BLOOD CELLS, PROFIT AND PURPOSE
“It seems wrong to call it ‘business.’ It seems wrong to throw all those hectic days and sleepless nights, all those magnificent triumphs and desperate struggles, under that bland, generic banner: business. What we were doing felt like so much more. Each new day brought fifty newproblems, fifty tough decisions that needed to be made, right now, and we were always acutely aware that one rash move, one wrong decision could be the end. The margin for error was forever getting narrower, while the stakes were forever creeping higher—and none of us wavered in the belief that the ‘stakes’ didn’t mean ‘money.’ For some, I realize, business is the all-out pursuit of profits, period, full stop, but for us business was no more about making money than being human is about making blood. Yes, the human body needs blood. It needs to manufacture red and white cells and platelets and redistribute them evenly, smoothly, to all the right places, on time, or else. But that day-to-day business of the human body isn’t our mission as human beings. It’s a basic process that enables our higher aims, and life always strives to transcend the basic processes of living—and at some point in the late 1970s, I did, too. I redefined winning,expanded it beyond my original definition of not losing, or merely staying alive. That was no longer enough to sustain me, or my company. We wanted, as all great businesses do, to create, to contribute, and we dared to say so aloud. When you make something, when you add some new thing or service to the lives of strangers, making them happier, or healthier, or safer, or better, and when you do it all crisply and efficiently, smartly, the way everything should be done but so seldom is—you’re participating more fully in the whole grand human drama. More thansimply alive, you’re helping others to live more fully, and if that’s business, all right, call me a businessman.” (End Quote)
Bonus Quote #6
WHAT’S THE MOST VITAL HUMAN EMOTION AFTER LOVE?
“I always feel a thrill, a shot of adrenalin, when I drive through the intersection of the campus’s two main streets, each named after a Nike Founding Father. All day, every day, the security guard at the front gate gives visitors the same directions. What you wanna do is take BowermanDrive all the way up to Del Hayes Way . . . I also take great pleasure in strolling past the oasis at the center of campus, the Nisho Iwai Japanese Gardens. In one sense our campus is a topographical map of Nike’s history and growth; in another it’s a diorama of my life. In yet another sense, it’s a living, breathing expression of that vital human emotion, maybe the most vital of all, after love: Gratitude.`` (End Quote)
Bonus Quote #7
LUCK + HARD WORK + FAITH
“Luck plays a big role. Yes, I’d like to publicly acknowledge the power of luck. Athletes get lucky, poets get lucky, businesses get lucky. Hard work is critical, a good team is essential, brains and determination are invaluable, but luck may decide the outcome. Some people might not call it luck. They might call it Tao, or Logos, or Jñāna, or Dharma. Or Spirit. Or God. Put it this way. The harder you work, the better your Tao. And since no one has ever adequately defined Tao, I now try to go regularly to mass. I would tell them: Have faith in yourself, but also have faith in faith. Not faith as others define it. Faith as you define it. Faith as faith defines itself in your heart.” (End Quote)
Bonus Quote #8
YOUR CALLING IS CALLING. (HEAR THE RINGING?)
“And yet I know that this regret clashes with my secret regret—that I can’t do it all over again. God, how I wish I could relive the whole thing. Short of that, I’d like to share the experience, the ups and downs, so that some young man or woman, somewhere, going through the same trials and ordeals, might be inspired or comforted. Or warned. Some young entrepreneur, maybe, some athlete or painter or novelist, might press on.It’s all the same drive. The same dream. It would be nice to help them avoid the typical discouragements. I’d tell them to hit pause, think long and hard about how they want to spend their time, and with whom they want to spend it for the next forty years. I’d tell men and women in their twenties not to settle for a job or even a career. Seek a calling. Even if you don’t know what that means, seek it. If you’re following your calling, the fatigue will be easier to bear, the disappointments will be fuel, the highs will be like nothing you’ve ever felt. I’d like to warn the best of them, the iconoclasts, the innovators, the rebels, that they will always have a bulls-eye on their backs. The better they get, the bigger the bulls-eye. It’s not one man’s opinion, it’s a law of nature.” (End Quote)
Everytime I finish one of these solo podcasts, I'm left with a mind, full optimism and possibilities. The one quote that hit home for me and I try to implement every single day, was by the legendary coach John Wooden; “When you improve a little each day, eventually big things occur. When you improve conditioning a little each day, eventually you have a big improvement in conditioning. Not tomorrow, not the next day, but eventually a big gain is made. Don’t look for the big, quick improvement. Seek the small improvement one day at a time. That’s the only way it happens—and when it happens, it lasts.” (End Quote)
Well that concludes another episode of the hockey journey podcast. I can’t thank you enough for stopping by and listening. If you think there’s someone in your circle of family and friends that might like this episode as well, please share it with just one person, it will really help me in growing this hockey community.
Again, I appreciate you being here, don’t forget to subscribe, rate or submit a review, I hope to see you back here soon, and do me a favor, make someone close to you smile today. All the best my friends!!