For those of you who know me or are within earshot (or eyeshot as the case may be) of me know, I am a hockey fan.
I didn’t grow up playing hockey. I was born in Nashville, Tennessee in the twilite years of our first minor league team, the Dixie Flyers… and there just wasn’t ice around even if one were motivated to play in the South in those days.
Hell – soccer was exotic back then, much less ice hockey in the land of grits, corn bread, and country ham.
However, over the years I have come to love and appreciate the game as one born to the fold, accelerated by having an NHL franchise about 10 minutes from my front door for the past ten years.
Almost everyone has heard the chestnuts about Football being a “collision sport” or a “game of inches” or a “ground acquisition game.”
Hockey, on the other hand, is a game of time, space, and opportunity.
Usually, by dominating any one of the three aspects leads to a very positive outcome.
You control the puck more than your opponents, your chances of winning goes up. Not guaranteed, but goes up.
You create space between the defenders, the puck, and yourself your chances of winning go up. Not guaranteed, but odds definitely improve.
But number three – opportunity – if you capitalize on every scoring opportunity, your chances of winning go WAY up. Exponentially up.
In fact, I would argue that NOT capitalizing on scoring chances is the number one factor in every loss in professional hockey where most teams are more or less on an equal footing talent wise.
For an individual on the ice, your opportunties are measured in shifts – most lasting only 60 seconds, a couple of minutes at most.
During a pro game, there may be a couple of guys who get 22 minutes of so of ice time – usually defensemen – but most guys (save the goalie, of course) are only on the ice for 10 minutes out of 60.
All the early morning practices, all of the extra ice time skating and conditioning – for 10 minutes of ice time in a game – if you’re lucky.
When I help my son get dressed for a game, I say two things to him: have fun, and skate every shift like it will be your last.
Because one day, it will be true.
If you leave it all out there, and try your best each and every shift, you will never have a regret that you didn’t do everything you could during those 60 second moments of opportunity.
Over a period of years, you will have aggregated a lot of ice time. But your overall success or failure will ultimately be judged by the work you did, 60 seconds at a time.
When you go about your day, think about your moments of opportunity. How are they measured? Are you creating space between you and your competition to give yourself the best chance at achieving your goals?
Are you commiting your absolute best each and every “shift?”
Because one day, it will be your last shift.
Make the most of the time, space, and opportunity.