A week ago I was standing in line outside the doors to the Trinity Ballroom at the Omni Dallas Hotel waiting to grab a first-come, first serve seat for a breakfast with the great Seth Godin. (The line started forming up at 5:30 am for the 7:00 breakfast.) The last thing I expected to hear to start the morning was the two lessons Seth learned playing youth hockey, but sidestepping expectations and delivering a surprise is among the things Seth does best.
He began the breakfast by describing the corner drill his coach would make the team run. The drill is very simple: with the puck in the corner, two players race to get it from opposing directions. Wining the drill means getting possession and leaving the zone with the puck. Young Seth, being more brains than either strength or speed, figured out that it was more effective for him to let the other player get to the puck first and concentrate on stealing the puck from him rather than to try to get there first and keep possession of the puck.
Lesson #1: “Being smarter helps.”
It helps in a lot of ways, for sure, but making an impact requires more than simply being smarter than the problem you’re facing. The ivory towers of Academia are full of “smarter,” but it’s the second lesson from Seth’s youth hockey experience that separates the Those That Think from Those That Think & Do:
Lesson #2: You have to be willing to be hit.
Being smarter will get you a moment’s advantage, but that advantage is never risk-free. Like hockey, Life itself is a contact sport, and doing anything of significance will encounter Resistance, and with that comes the physics of opposing forces colliding. There is no such thing as an idea so brilliant it is born immune to criticism and rejection. No matter how obvious the problem and how elegant the solution you have to it, the act of putting yourself and your idea “out there” brings with it the near certainty that hits to your ego will soon be forthcoming. To make an impact, you have to be willing to take the impact. It is this willingness to take a punch that separates those that Do from those that merely Talk About Doing.
Fast forward to last night, and Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals. The story this morning is all about Nick Bonino’s goal with less than three minutes to go in the game. Watch the video replay, and pay attention to the play made by Kris Letang, who made the pass that setup Bonino’s game-winning shot.
Success requires more than just a willingness to get hit in order to score. Far more often than not, success comes from someone willing to pay the price of taking a hit in order to set up someone else to score. That is the very core of yesterday’s Memorial Day holiday, after all.
When was the last time you took a hit?