I've just come back from an exciting banquet with Vancouver Canucks' star forward Alex Burrows as the guest of honour. My son's ice hockey team won 'The Ultimate Hockey Party' (the Grand Prize and one of only 10 across all of Canada) in a contest sponsored by Scotiabank. Alex answered questions and signed autographs at the event for over an hour-and-a-half.
During the Q&A session, Alex offered the following advice, which, as he noted, applies not just to making it into the NHL, but to all facets of life:
Set Your Goals
Alex didn't decide that he wanted professional hockey to be his career until he was 19 years old. Although he had played high-level hockey for many years, it was then that he realized he had to make a choice: focus on hockey as a career, or drop it and find another path.
Where are you in your career? How committed are you? Are you fully engaged, or is it time to consider a change?
Work Hard ... every day!
Alex knew that he wasn't the best player on the ice and that he would have to work hard to realize his dream. He would have to work hard on his conditioning, on his stamina, on his strength, on his skills, on his game play. Harder than anyone else. And he did. And now, at 28 years old, he has arrived in the NHL with a reputation for his hard work and tenacity. This past season, with career highs in both goals and assists, he was named the Canucks 'Unsung Hero' and their most exciting player.
What should you be working hard on right now? What facet of your business needs your intense focus? What would generate the greatest returns on your focus and time?
Alex was never drafted into the NHL. In fact he was 19 years old before he played in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League; a league where most NHL-bound players start by 17 and some as young as 15 or 16. But Alex had set his mind to playing in the NHL, and through his tenacious perseverence he earned himself an invitation to training camp with the Canucks' AHL farm team, the Manitoba Moose. While playing with the Moose, he impressed the Canucks' coaching staff with his grit and ability to score. So at the age of 26, well past the age when most have given up on their NHL dreams, he signed his first NHL contract with the Canucks.
Are you still just as committed as you were when you started your journey? Where do you need to rebuild your vision and be tenacious with your goals?
Believe in Yourself
Through all his years in the minor leagues, through the tough, gritty games, playing in the trenches, enduring the long bus trips and second-rate accommodation, he continued to believe that he would get a chance to prove himself in the NHL. He knew that he was willing to work as hard as he needed to on and off the ice, to take on whatever role was required of him, and to do his best every time he stepped on the ice. And he knew that his style of play made things happen on the ice. He never let go of his belief in himself.
Do you believe in yourself? Alex had coaches to help him excel and believe in himself. Who is supporting you?
Alex's formula for success applies to any endeavour, and it is clearly nothing new. It is time-tested and proven to work. All success stems from applying these simple rules. He has applied them to achieve his goal of making professional hockey his career and playing in the NHL.
So, what is your goal and how will you use this formula to create your own success?
Live your dream,