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Keep Things as Simple as ABC – Lessons Learned at AHCA 2014 Convention

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I often start most of my blogs in my head while I run, this one is no different. During this morning’s 8 miles I was thinking back on a recent experience. I began to reflect on the last week that I spent in Naples, Florida, at the American Hockey Coaches Association 2014 Convention. College coaches from all across the United States meet there to discuss the past season, attend seminars and various sessions, and hit the beach, all for the betterment of the game of hockey… yes the beach helps, trust me. So many different hockey and life perspectives in one place can only mean that the game will continue to get better. I am not a college hockey coach, nor do I know just yet if that is my path, but I couldn’t be happier that I attended the conference. I went to the conference thinking that if I can gain more insight to what’s going on at the higher levels, the systems and skills that are working, and also issues that might be present, then it could help my players, my team, program, and my overall effectiveness as a coach. The next thought I had as I continued down the sidewalk was, “wait, why in the world am I (someone who has never wanted to run more than 3 miles) running 8 miles today?” Simple, I’m training for a half marathon. Why? Because it’s new, it’s a challenge, and I have the outlook on life that I can be good, if not great, at anything I choose. While that attitude is often seen by others as something to take pride in, it also causes a bit of indecision when trying to choose a career path. I have always been one step ahead of myself, planned out tomorrow before going to bed at night, efficiency in my day often takes precedent over simple pleasures, so coming to a point in life where I may not know exactly what is going to happen next isn’t exactly the easiest to navigate.

Like wildfire I began connecting the experience I had just had in Naples and the messages I took away from the conference to the crisis I currently found myself in (my career path, not the 3.5 more miles I had to go). While in Naples I listened to Dr. Saul Miller, who for the past 25 years has been a performance specialist consulting people in sports, business, health care and the arts, he has worked with teams in the NHL, NFL, NBA, MLB, PGA Golfers, and more. Dr. Miller spoke about the mental side of the game and also gave a presentation on, Why Winning Teams Win. Within those presentations he touched on a subject I find myself debating over every now and then. How much do you say to a team before a game? How much information is too much for them to handle? Where do you steer their focus? As coaches we all get excited before a game, few probably like to admit it and many hope to not show too much of it but lets face it, we do. Miller recommends giving teams an A, B, and a C for the game. Maybe selecting things you have been focusing on in practice or things you talked about after the last game that you could have done better collectively. Making it easy and focusing their attention on three simple phrases. Example: move your feet, pass hard, shoot the puck.

How does this relate to my run? Good question, it doesn’t and didn’t. I was running in the middle of the day in Texas…all that related to that was finishing and finding water. How does it relate to my career path crisis? Easy. I realized I was using my energy to worry about what is going to eventually happen in my life, not about what I was going to do to get there. So I decided to give myself my own A, B, and C. 

A. Do what you enjoy. 

B. Everything you do, do it wholeheartedly. 

C. Always leave a positive impact. 

If those are my A, B, and C, then there isn’t any room for worry or doubt. My character isn’t going to change with age or experience. Constantly wanting to succeed and be good at whatever it is I choose to do isn’t going to go away. Once I realized that I was able to refocus on the tasks I had at hand and get even more excited for the work I do and the people I have the privilege of working with right now. If I continue to only view my life and work as “what comes next?” there’s a lot I’ll be missing out on right now. I had to realize that sometimes uncertainty is okay, and the challenge to discover what I am meant for is incredibly motivating. It’s okay to not always know what may come next, and there is still good work that can be done to help me prepare for whatever it turns out to be. 

A. Do what you enjoy. B. Everything you do, do it wholeheartedly. C. Always leave a positive impact. Sometimes there is a great amount of complexity in keeping things simple and focusing on the moment.  So, that 8 mile run didn’t help me answer all of my questions, and I am far from having my story all planned out, but I know it will be a good one, after all, I’m the one holding the pen.

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