Blog Archives

Are You Mentally Tough Enough?

Life can be tough..

Personal life, Business “life”. Things come out of nowhere that can knock you on your butt. But you gotta get back up. You just gotta! The more resilient you become early in your life, the more success will follow.

If you develop a tough mental mindset challenges can be overcome much easier.

Remember the old 80’s song by Matthew Wilder:

“Ain’t nothin’ gonna to break my stride
Nobody’s gonna slow me down, oh-no
I got to keep on movin’
Ain’t nothin’ gonna break my stride
I’m running and I won’t touch ground
Oh-no, I got to keep on movin'”

How ’bout some Chumbawamba:

“I get knocked down but I get up again You’re never going to keep me down”

  • What songs motivate you to keep moving forward?

I will never proclaim that crushing defeats in sports are more challenging than those in personal or professional lives, but there are still lessons to be learned. In May of this year, the Toronto Maple Leafs professional hockey team blew a 3 goal lead in the third period of game 7 during the Stanley Cup playoffs. The eventually lost to the Boston Bruins in overtime.

This was one of the most catastrophic game 7 losses in professional sports history, and I hope all the players on that team are mentally tough enough to get through it, and excel at the highest level again. Having a short memory and “erasing” setbacks is crucial. Just keep looking forward.

Life can be tough. Everyone knows that. The 64,000 dollar question is can you be tougher?

I hope the answer is a resounding YES!

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Can A New Coach Make A Difference?

I have heard a couple of incredible interviews recently with hockey coaches. I immediately thought of the parallels to leaders in the business world. It seemed like an opportune time to repost this article on a professional hockey coach. 

I was driving home from work one day last January and heard an awesome interview with Jeremy Rutherford from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on the Team 1260 Sports Radio in Edmonton. The discussion focused on the new coach of the St. Louis Blues, Ken Hitchcock, and the team’s amazing turn-around since his hiring.

Highly regarded professional hockey coach Ken Hitchcock was out of work for some time when the St. Louis Blues hired him in November, 2011. He had a reputation throughout the National Hockey League as a disciplinarian for many years, and lead with a “my way or the highway” approach. He had a history of conflict with young players who were having trouble adapting to his style of play.

By the time he took over the floundering yet talented Blues hockey club, the positive change in the team was almost instantaneous. At one point in January of 2012, they were on a 21 wins, 6 losses and 2 overtime losses run. The team’s fans and casual observers were impressed with the team’s turnaround, but not totally surprised based on Hitchcock’s history of success.

When Jeremy Rutherford was asked about Hitchcock’s most recent success, his answer was simple and to the point,

“He mellowed”.

He adjusted his coaching style to cater to today’s players. There is still accountability, but the players are not afraid to make one mistake and then have their butt stapled to the bench for an extended period. Two veterans who had previously played for Hitchcock gave the players a head’s up of what to expect from their new coach.

Rutherford described a potential scenario,

“You make one mistake, no problem. You make a second mistake, no problem. You continue to make the same mistake; the coach and player are going to have to find solutions.”

The part of the radio interview that impressed me the most discussed that Coach Hitchcock had studied all 30 teams for several months while he was unemployed. He was preparing for his next opportunity, and waiting for the phone to ring.

Two things stood out for me about this message:

  • He was not just sitting at home waiting for the next job to fall in to his lap
  • He had the positive belief that another role would come his way, and it was only a matter of time
  • Have you ever observed a sport or business team make a remarkable improvement after a coaching or management change?
  • Can you pinpoint specific reasons for the improvement?

What Are You Prepared To Give Up – Right Now?

Hockey referee

My name is Tim Mushey, and I am a “hockey-a-holic”. The labour strife in the National Hockey League ended a couple of weeks ago, and hockey is finally back!

I am super excited that the coolest game in the world is back, but I had to make a decision. I quit all of my hockey pools, cold turkey! For the first time in many years, I am not in one hockey pool, NOT ONE! To be clear, this was never about the money. It was about fun with friends, and the competitive spirit to try to out do each other.

Although I miss it a lot, it had to be done. I have gone from checking the scores around 25 times a night (not joking) to maybe twice. I don’t have to watch all the highlights before bed, just when I have time.

That extra time I have every day can now be spent working towards my goals. Perhaps it is writing my blog, connecting and following up with social media activities, or learning and planning my next steps online.

If feels good that my time is being put to better use now, and I can also focus more on my family.

  • What do you have to quit “cold turkey”?
  • What is going to help you move closer to achieving your goals that you have not been focusing on?

Remember, a little bit every day is still a great place to start!

I miss hockey pools, but it won’t help me retire early 🙂

The Name That Tune “Beat Down” – A Lesson In Learning!

When you love something, you typically don’t have to learn it. It is almost as if you absorb the information, without having to bear down, understand and memorize the content. For those of you who have followed me for a while, you will know that I am a music fanatic. I have always done well playing “name that tune” at pubs, or with my wife making selections on our iPod during long road trips.

But my biggest victory occurred on a 3 hour car ride with three colleagues. They challenged me to a game and even used their own iPod. They were younger than me, and quite confident that they would beat “the old guy”. Long story short, it was not even close. I answered 90+% of the songs correctly (many after only hearing 2-3 second clips). They were flabbergasted, and I could not wipe the smile off my face. I have loved music since I was ten years old. They never had a chance.

With several of my sales roles, I loved what I sold. There was never really any learning involved. The knowledge “just appeared” over time, and I was having fun doing something I loved.

This is how I am today with hockey, golf, music and internet marketing. I do not have to memorize anything. The information just stays with me.

Think of how difficult it is to learn something when you do not like it, or are just not interested in it:

  • A course at school
  • Training for products, services or concepts at work
  • Music lessons as a kid

It did not go very well, did it?

If the negative feelings you have towards learning something are worse than getting your teeth pulled, how effective are you ever going to be at understanding the information? You may be able to learn it over time and perform a required role, but it will not have meaning to you. It will just be something that you have to do.

From an early age, my son fell in love with hockey. That was a “side affect” of having me as a dad. We watched it on TV, played in the basement, on the driveway and at the rink. He also took skating lessons and started to play on a team last year. Did I mention that he watched his first professional NHL game at one hour and fifty minutes old on the 7 inch TV screen in the hospital?

By the time that he was four years old, he could name any of 15 NHL players by me only giving him a number and team name as hints. We never had “memorization sessions”. He just immersed himself in the sport, and his knowledge of one of the greatest games on earth is coming to him as naturally as it did for his father.

The motivation for this post came from the courses that I did not like in school and struggled just to get passing grades in, and the jobs that I have had in the past where I did not like what I was selling.

  • Do you love the products and/or services that you sell  every day?
  • If not, should you be getting involved with something that you really love to do?
  • If you have been “festering in unhappiness” for months, years or decades, is it time to “hit reset”?

If you are sitting on the fence, maybe today is the day to take a leap of faith!

We Are All Leaders

Everyone develops leadership qualities personally and professionally in different ways. Many people may not even aspire to be leaders, but “accidentally” end up being role models for others.

You can become a leader very early in your career. It does not necessarily mean that you are a loud “rah rah” person. You don’t have to run around the office “high fiving” everyone, or be super enthusiastic every minute of the day!

I have been very interested in sports leadership for years, and the one who set the bar the highest in hockey since the early 1980’s was Mark Messier. Not only was he known for winning 5 championships, his fierce competitiveness, and leadership qualities, but he was confident. Those who follow hockey closely will remember when he guaranteed victory in the 1994 Stanley Cup Playoffs while playing for the New York Rangers. Not only did they win that game, but they won it all for the first time in 54 years!

For every Mark Messier, there are many others who quietly lead by example in sports, business, and every day life.  I always love the comment,

“They don’t speak up very often, but when they do everyone stops in their tracks to listen.”

Those quiet people are also leading and providing great value.

When I first got in to business, my perception of leadership was very one-sided. I thought that managers and executive management were the only ones who were leaders. Many of them did motivate and inspire their teams, but others unfortunately did not understand the importance of being a positive influence on others.

You can start showing leadership qualities from the moment you start a new role.  Focus on things like:

  • Caring
    • Care about the job that you are doing, your customers, and everyone around you
  • Having a strong work ethic, and becoming a “go to employee”
    • Being the type of person that others want to be around
  • Doing the “little things”, and being attentive to details
  • Doing more than is expected of you
    • “That is not my job” is not in your vocabulary
  • Taking advice and criticism as a professional
    • Being open to learning
  • Supporting team mates and encouraging them
    • Celebrating their wins, and supporting their losses
  • Being enthusiastic & positive
    • Having lots of energy
  • Smiling

Before you know it, people will start to look up to you and aspire to be like you. They notice that you have taken steps forward and have become promotable sooner than most.

Everyone has leadership qualities in some way, shape or form. The million dollar questions are:

  •  Are you using them? And better yet…
  •  Do you want to use them?

Take stock of how you are leading now, and how you may want to lead in the future.

Shhhh… I will tell you a little secret.

You might actually like it if you don’t already!

I Remember…

For those of you who are sports fans, you will be able to relate if I told you that I lost my favourite team once. It does not matter what sport you follow and franchise you love, but if your favourite team has ever moved, you will know what it feels like.  If this has not happened to you, you can imagine the horror of your athletic celebrities “packing up for greener pastures”.

Sports does not define me, and I would not categorize myself a sports junkie. But I certainly love hockey, and have followed closely since my parents took me to my first Winnipeg Jets hockey game in 1979.

The team left for financial reasons in 1996, and the loss ripped the heart out of the city. Over the last 15 years, Winnipeg has made great strides moving forward, and as an added bonus, another NHL hockey franchise relocated there last May! My wife teased me on a regular basis during the 13 years that we have been together, because I continued to wear my Jets stuff, and never stopped believing that the team would be back.

My son is so excited, and the prospects of us going to a game together this year is a dream come true.

Last September before the start of the regular season, I woke up in the middle of the night once. I had a dream that I should write a letter to the editor of the local newspaper. I wanted to share my memories of the old team growing up in Winnipeg and express my gratitude to the new owners for bringing “version 2.0” back!

So I ran downstairs to the computer and came up with this in the middle of the night! I have attached the link to the newspaper article below. My letter is about half way down.

It starts with “I remember my first Jets game in 1979”

glory-days-have-arrived-have-your-say-131439293.html

You don’t have to know the people, places or references in this post, to know how much I love my team. When I need a break from reality, and the rigours of daily life, it makes me happy beyond belief that my team is back and I get to watch them again this time with my son!

I was stunned to see the paper the day after the first game last October 9th. My letter to the editor was dead centre of the page in a special inaugural season “Winnipeg Jets Edition”. What a thrill and honour that was!

If you put your mind to something, who knows what can happen. Now I have an incredible keepsake for the rest of my life!

Every time I see a post about the National Hockey League (NHL) and business, I have to check it out! This was the case recently with Anna Caraveli’s post on the Washington Capitals with respect to mental toughness in your leadership and organization. If you are not a hockey fan, that is ok. The message still comes across loud and clear!