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Friday, March 23, 2012

The Game of Choice

I have picked up my Mac probably a dozen times in the past 2 weeks or so with the hope of having some brainstorm and getting a new blog post out as soon as I could. I realized then that the reason I had started this blog in the first place was to rehash some of my experiences I have had during my life in the hopes of somehow getting through to a few of the right people and hopefully making a difference for someone along the line.

I soon came to the conclusion that what I was writing, was what I felt the people involved wanted to hear and the same goes for many of the young athletes out there striving to follow their dreams and become a star hockey, baseball, figure skating player and move to an elite level of competition.

I remember growing up in Corner Brook as an all-star athlete in both baseball and hockey, and that in ice-hockey I was always an offensive threat and dreamt of scoring many goals in the NHL. My baseball dreams soon went on hold as I was told that I had to make a decision, a "choice" of what sport I wanted to pursue and I couldn't do both. Well, as you all know my background if you're reading this today the "choice" I made was hockey.

I have no regrets at all about the "choice" I made as it was a lifelong dream of mine and I was determined to make it. I soon realized however that there were many other cards in play and just by wanting it bad enough was not going to cut it for me. I played in the QMJHL, which was and still is recognized as the most offensive minded league out of the 3 big leagues in Canada, and that you soon became branded as being a defensive liability by the powers to be, the almighty scouts and agents who ultimately decide your fate in this glorious game they call hockey! So, how was a kid from NL, who had grown up his whole life as dreaming of becoming a star scorer in the NHL going to even get to the next level as players like myself were a dime a dozen in the CHL. I made the "choice" that if I was going to succeed that changes had to be made in not only the type of game I had to adapt but the type of person I had to become as well. I made the "choice" because I wanted it so bad that I was going to become a physical presence during my junior career and hopefully open some doors along the way. I knew this was possible because it was instilled in me many years before this as my father would always say to me...."give 110% every time you step on the ice because you never know who is watching and it only takes one person to give you that chance." I decided then that no matter how many shifts I received or how many minutes I played that i would be noticed one way or the other and do everything in my power to end up on the scoresheet in some shape or form no matter what anyone else thought.

Why would I do such a thing you may be asking yourself? Well, because of the mere fact that I wanted it so bad and was going to do what I had to make it, even if it meant sacrificing who I was along the way. Unfortunately, I am quite sure that I am not alone in saying this and it wasn't until the past couple of years that I began to realize what had transpired along my journey, I got lost and consequently lost myself somewhere while trying please everyone else and believe what I was doing was the right thing in my pursuit of a professional hockey career. I would not be able to put any statistical numbers in play here today but I would say it is a safe bet to say a large majority of players and ones from NL especially are in that same category as I once was because I see it first hand and so do you.

The sad part about all of this is that you give so much of yourself to the "game" and the powers to be that rule it, that you too forget who you are and what made you successful in the first place and that is not fun because you soon realize that as soon as your stock dwindles then so does your worth and like any career you choose in life once that happens you are pushed aside for newer and fresher players and ideas. Where do you go from here then is the next big question because now for the first time in a long while you feel lost and without any direction at all. This then ultimately means that you have to go and reinvent or rebrand yourself all over again because that is what we are taught needs to happen, believe me I know because I have lived it.

When I retired from playing I felt like a deer in headlights, froze solid and not a clue as to which way to turn. I expected jobs and opportunities to come my way left, right and centre...well guess what, they didn't !! I returned to University completed my degree, sent out 1000's of resumes and waited for the phone to ring, well guess didn't!! I then found myself jumping from career to career for several years trying to find the right fit, and believe me it took a while before I finally did and I'm hoping this "choice" is the one to stick and make me happy and continue to feel good about myself and being a contributing member of our community and society. What does all of this have to do with hockey and my blog you're probably asking yourselves now if you have read any of my others, well it is quite simple as I will explain to you now shortly.

Along the way as I was trying to figure out what I wanted in life and what career path I was going to take, I saw myself many a day and night reading books about how to be successful, how to brand yourself and attract employers and many a self-help and development book because I felt lost, and this I am sure applies to each and everyone of you out there today. I sat back recently as I stated earlier trying to get a new blog post up that I was still doing what I did many years ago as a young teenager. I was trying to make someone else happy and prove to them that I was worthy of my position within the company or organization and I could indeed do what they were looking for. How many times have you prepared for a job interview and you research the company, their mission statement and philosophies so that you can say the right words and have an edge over the next person. Just think about it for a minute, Is that really any different than what I did as a young hockey player? No, it is not and Im sure that if you surveyed many a player they would state the same...they sacrificed who there were to advance, were probably never happy even though the pay was unbelievable and now that they a had lost their way along this road they had to step into society and do the same thing all over again...sacrificing who you are for someone else's benefit. This is a "choice" that you and only you can make and if you are content to live the rest of your life in a position such as this then I think it would be save to say that the next few years may be rewarding financially but are you happy with who you are,  because  your ultimate potential in not only sports,  but school and life in general you need to be happy and enjoy what you are doing day in and day out!

It is too bad that not everyone can realize this and this goes for employers at every level as well. your company, team organization will be far more successful and efficient when your employees or you are content with where you are today. You have to make "choices", whether they are the right ones or not at the time, but the good thing is that you will learn from those choices you have made and be given the opportunity to become a better all around person, you have to make "choices" for YOU though and not someone else. I often hear many ex-players talking about issues such as these but there is only one thing to really do, make the choice to just be YOU. To follow your goals and values that were so admired as you grew up in your communities and decide that you want and will be happy with the rest of your life. Do not under any circumstances succumb to the believe that you need to be someone else to get ahead or get a break in life. You have made your "choice" and that can't be changed but you can make another "choice" as well and that is to decide to not just go through the motions day in and day out and to be the person who made you successful early on in your life.

Far too many people give the advice that you need to refocus, find a way to rebrand yourself or show everyone that you have reinvented who you are and can adapt to their needs and wants! Well, after all I have been through, the books on how to succeed and be successful in life, all the laws of attraction and everything else that is out there, you need to make another "choice" and if you make the right one, this will probably become the last one you'll ever need to make in regards to this.

Make the "choice" to be you! Decide what you want in life for yourself, how successful you want to be, decide what success means to you, it could be financially, it could be having a great family, being a volunteer, the options are endless but you will soon realize that you have to take care of yourself number one and once that ""choice' is made all the rest will fall into place because you are now being who you are. There is no need to rebrand or reinvent yourself as all the workforce counsellors and best selling authors tell you. There is no more need to adapt another players style of play, another employees work ethic or habits in the office because you've now made your "choice" and that is to be who YOU are, you will then soon find out that the glass will usually be half full when you wake in the mornings from here on in and that life really isn't as difficult as you had thought it was all this time.


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