No Laughs This Week – Just Smiles And Reflection!

This is an older post that I pulled out of the archives today. Instead of laughing this time, I will be smiling and reflecting. My championship hockey team from 1985 lost a teammate way too young last week, and I want to dedicate this post to him and his family… 

I love sales, and I love sports – especially hockey. It’s natural that I see similarities between professional athletes and sales reps, as well as between the roles of sales managers and sport coaches. One story sticks out in my mind, and it has motivated me for close to 30 years now.

Growing up, there were four different tiers of hockey leagues in my city, and I was very excited to be selected to play for the Tier 2 team when I was 11 years old. It was a great group of guys, and the coaches were awesome. We had a pretty good year, but started to slip in the standings towards the end of the season. Six out of ten teams made the playoffs, and we qualified by a narrow margin.

To be honest, I don’t remember the playoff rounds leading up to the finals, but what I remember is how the coaches got us to come together as a team. Players would be asked to play different roles depending on the scenarios that unfolded during the season.  Some players were more skilled than others, and they would be counted on to score. Others were better at defence, and they would be counted on to prevent the other team’s best players from scoring.

We remarkably made it to the finals, and had to play the first place team. They were the top team for the entire season. It was a best of three series. They had one superstar player, who was a big reason that they had advanced to the finals. He was hands down the best player in the league. Our strategy going in to the finals was if we could neutralize that player, and keep him off the scoreboard as much as possible, we would win.

They won the first game. But our coaches were so good, they told us not to panic, and stick to our game plan. If we played better in game two, and continued to focus on the star player, we would still win. Game two was much better, and we kept the star off the score sheet as much as we could. All our players pretty much played the same amount, and we attacked our competitors as one unit. They would play their star player and his supporting cast most of the time. We won game two.

We advanced to game three, it was winner take all. I was so nervous that I thought that I was going to throw up! It was a very evenly matched game, and it went in to over time. I did not know how the families and coaches could bear to watch anymore. I do not remember exactly how long it took, but during the overtime period, the puck came to me by our bench. I skated up the ice with the puck, and one of my team mates had just hopped on to the ice. I sent a pass over to him and he scored the winning goal! We were champions even though nobody thought that we could do it.

What I really got out of that experience was the value of working as a team. A group of people with their own goals do not make a team. The other team relied too much on one player, and in the end that strategy did not work. Our coaches were instrumental in keeping us motivated, positive and continually instilled in us that we could do it! Their confidence in us never wavered for one moment. Losing was never an option.

This is very much like a sales team.  Everyone has their own individual goals. But if team goals are important too, it will create a better work environment for everyone, and a much stronger company overall. There is no better feeling than succeeding when nobody expects you to! And success feels so much better when you have teammates to celebrate with.

  • Have you ever been a part of a winning sports team, and if so, what factors contributed to its success?
  • Do you have any memories of that team that will be with you for the rest of your life?
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About Tim Mushey

Dynamic and energized sales rep, mentor and leader since 1999. This blog will be about sales, social networking, personal branding, leadership, music and having some laughs! Don’t be surprised if I mix it up on occasion, and talk about something totally different! I thrive on being part of successful, forward thinking teams. I am ready to go from the moment my feet hit the floor each morning, with the expectation that new adventures will be coming my way. It is rare that there isn't a smile on my face, as I take it all in, and have some fun along the way!

Posted on August 9, 2013, in Inspiration, Leadership, Success, Team Work and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. Great post Tim. Brings back memories for me. Thanks for sharing. Dave

  2. Hey you are more than welcome Dave! Thanks for taking the time to comment. There are certain things that have become permanently etched in my mind over the years, and this is one of the more meaningful memories of my childhood. Every time I have passed that rink to this day where we won it all, I just smile! Take care..

  3. Great article Tim!

  4. Tim,
    I enjoyed this post because my son played youth, college, and pro hockey and is now a high school hockey coach. The story you shared is a great one, and ties right into sales. Keep up the great posts –
    Lori

    • Hi Lori,

      Glad you liked the post. It has carried a lot of meaning for me for many years! Hockey is huge where I live, and I love taking advantage of the simpler things like taking my 5 year old son down to the local rink for a skate. Maybe my son will stay as involved as yours did over the years! Thanks again for your comments.

  5. I love stories like that!! Great Blog and even better content!!

  6. Nice story, Tim. Lesson learned. You can’t have too many ideas. Working as a team often produces incredible brainstorms.

    Cheers,
    Marc

  7. Hello Tim, great post with some great lessons. I can really relate to this story. When I was 11 years old we won the provincial championships in hockey as well. Though were I played wasn’t big enough to be called a city and there was only an “A’ team and “B” team. We were actually consider a ‘D’ center a far cry from AAA metros.

    We made the finals and it was the first to 6 points. Of our first 3 games we tied once and lost 2x putting us down 5 points to 1. We had never beaten the other team and now had to win 3 straight, no ties. The opposing team had even brought to the fourth game a feast to celebrate their supposed imminent victory. This made us very upset and we were determined to prove we were worthy of being in the finals.

    Using the other teams arrogance as motivation we came together, played as a team and took the final game to overtime. Even though we scored first it wasn’t sudden death, we had to play the whole OT period through. I do remember being on at the end of the game and my heart pounding, but we had lost as a team earlier and we won as a team on this night. As a team we persevered.

    The next season one of the kids on my team who had another year at this level had a huge growth spurt and pretty much scored at will the following season. The hockey center I played for made it to the finals with him yet again. As a parallel to your story the other team focused on shutting him down and did an excellent job. I believe part of the reason ‘my’ team lost is because the team became so dependent on their SuperStar’s production they did not know how to perform when he was not able to execute his game.

    It was a close enough series that if the supporting cast had played as a team I am sure they could have won the series.

  8. Hey thanks for taking the time to reply with your detailed comments! It sounds like our experiences at a young age were very similar. Awesome that you won it all with your team too. Isn’t it ironic that the “star player focus” did not work either the following year? As usual the sum of the parts wins out every time. Have a great day!

  9. Great post Tim, I agree that winning in business compares to winning in sports. In fact, I think those team principles help us with succeeding in all areas of life.

    Keep on leading my friend!!

  10. Hi Tim, I just wanted to say thanks for liking my latest blog post. As I lurked your blog, I couldn’t help but feel inspired by this particular post. Teamwork is absolutely essential when working with others… I especially liked how you turned around the story in the second last paragraph of the blog to make it relevant to your blog’s audience by mentioning a sales team.

    • Hi I am so happy that you felt inspired by my post. Yes adding the sales angle at the end was something that I thought of doing later in the writing process. Glad you liked it. You are welcome for the “like” on your post as well. Thanks for commenting!

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