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Passion Leads to Purpose; Helping Your Team See Success. A Mid-Season Reminder for Coaches

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Passion. The root of the word in Latin means suffering. By dictionary definition passion is a “strong and barely controllable emotion, an intense love, desire or enthusiasm for something.” Putting the two together may seem strange at first, but to me and I’m sure to some of you, it makes complete sense. If you love something, if the desire exists to accomplish something, reach a goal, craft or build something, or master a skill you can bet there will be some suffering involved. The trick is to constantly see yourself at the finish line, having accomplished the task, reached the milestone, etc. See past the suffering and live in the feeling of that accomplishment.

“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” – Henry Ford

“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” – Henry David Thoreau

Two classic examples of this same thought process, it’s not rocket science, it’s simple, believe you can and you can. There are many different ways to word and articulate this state of living in the life that you want to create before you even get there, one of the easiest is just simply not limiting yourself. As a child you probably dreamt of being in the NHL, being a doctor, a pilot, firefighter, whatever the profession, you saw yourself in that role, maybe pretended to be Gordie Howe as you deked around an imaginary defensemen and shot the puck into the net. That child-like imagination and blind confidence does not have to go away with age. It is never too late to create the life that you have always wanted. So maybe you weren’t meant to be a doctor, or to be Gordie Howe, but, that doesn’t mean you weren’t meant for something.

I bring this point up not only because it is a topic I work on in my own yoga practice and life, but because I recently found myself wondering if my players have passion for the game of hockey. I caught myself thinking, “not everyone can get it, not every kid can be as serious about the sport as I was, quit pushing so hard, don’t exhaust yourself if they aren’t willing.” However, I’ve come to the conclusion that even though our levels of passion for the game may not be the same, I would be doing an incredible disservice to a great sport if I did not try with all my might to give every kid I work with a little taste of that passion. It is up to them to decide what they want to do with it, but it is my job to show them that no matter what the circumstance, the love and enthusiasm I have for them and this sport. I coach so the passion within me has the opportunity to live out its full purpose. I coach, to teach my players how to believe in themselves and their team. To help them see for themselves what it’s like to buy in to one consistent team concept and go forward in life knowing that no matter what their dream is, if they have passion, they make their dream possible.

Dreams are not as far away as we think, we are all capable of living in them, we just have to shift our perspective. As hockey coaches we choose to live as an example of this sport, and as mentors. The excuses, “they’re so young…they don’t understand… they’re a house team…they aren’t that serious…they just don’t have what it takes,” do not have to dictate how much effort we are going to give in trying to spread the passion for the game, unless we allow it to. You may need to get over the fact that everyone will have a different level of passion, or maybe, your passion for hockey will help them find their passion for something else. You are working with each athlete you have for a reason. Do not place a label on them because they see things differently than you at times. This reminds me of a quote I once heard, “Don’t limit a child to your own learning, for he was born in another time.” –Rabindranath Tagore. Do not limit your players, do not limit yourselves, and do not make excuses. Live your passion…without limitations.

When you need to be tough, be tough, but remember you are there to serve your team, lead by example, show them how to love, how to dream, and how to work with passion for the dream. Becoming a coach doesn’t make you any better than the 5 year old player you use to be, learning how to tie your own skates and dreaming of one day reaching the NHL. (Yes, I knew it probably wasn’t possible, but that’s what I dreamt of too. My dream may have shifted, but passion allows me to see that what I have and where I am is exactly what I had dreamt of – making an impact in the sport of hockey…I never said all of your dreams will come true to a point, so be careful what you wish for!)

Passion, something you love so much you are willing to suffer for it. Becoming a coach means that in one way or another you have become aware of how much passion you have inside of you and what kind of impact that passion can have. Do not waste your passion. Always remember that you were once those kids that are staring up at you thirsting for guidance, unaware of your true potential. Live your passion, be an example of it, and let it strengthen those who are following your strides. 

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