Chapter 12: Shine On You Silver Lining
(The Hockey Bag series was previously published on NHL.com)
So it turns out I received quite a bit of flak after posting my last blog. Many think I’m being too hard on myself in stating that I ‘suck’ at hockey. Others believe I’m being too unrealistic by expecting to be a hockey star in my first season of play.
I also received a whole lot of support from friends, colleagues, and teammates. Not to mention complete strangers (thank you to everyone who posted such nice comments!). There were plenty of words of encouragement, advice, and wisdom. Things like “Keep your chin up,” “The hard work will eventually pay off,” and “Remember that you get better each time you step onto the ice.”
But it was one message in particular that caused me to really think about my mission to play hockey, and really drove things home: “Whether you believe you suck or not… you’re right…”
I agree. Big time.
I’ve come to realize that playing hockey is an ongoing journey, and becoming a ‘good’ hockey player is actually going to take years. There is so much to learn, and so many skills to practice. Not to mention having confidence on skates, with hockey stick in hand.
Some people have played the game their whole life, and still acknowledge they have shortcomings on the ice. Even those who are born-and-bred on hockey for decades continue to make mistakes, miss shots, and even fall down. The reality is that I’ve only been playing for three months. Yet, part of me continues to demand that I become a superstar by the end of my first season.
While I expect the best in others, this holds even more truth when it comes to myself. Having been an ‘overachiever’ my entire life, it’s becoming more and more obvious that I put a lot of pressure on myself to excel at everything I do. Whether school, work, or play, I’ve got to do the best I can. I’ve got to put my heart and soul plus an extra one-hundred-and-ten per cent into it.
I’ve come to realize that at the end of the day, it hasn’t always been skill or talent or knowledge that has allowed me to achieve what I’ve set out to do. The one constant in everything I’ve accomplished has always been the ability to maintain a good attitude. It’s been about staying positive, even when negativity looms large, and frustration becomes overwhelming. In my opinion, that’s what sets winners apart from losers. Finishers from quitters. And ‘good’ hockey players from those that ‘suck’.
I’ve also come to realize that in this crazy and exciting game called hockey, I’m already putting my heart and soul into it, plus an extra one-hundred-and-ten per cent. So far, I’m doing my best, to the best of my current ability. After all, I’ve only been playing for three months.
I’ve also got to remember that each time I step onto the ice I’m going to get a little bit better – so long as I keep a smile on my face and keep my chin up. Because if I’ve learned anything about myself over the years, it’s that I’ll never quit. When the going gets tough, that’s usually when I’m most driven to keep on going. Believing in myself is always the first step in the next journey. Whatever it happens to be.
After all, it’s just like the Little Engine said… I think I can. I think I can. I think I can…