Chalk Talk: It’s important to realize that success follows failure
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I have a wife and kids I adore, I live in an amazing climate, and I work every day in something I am incredibly passionate about.
However, when I step back and look at my life as a whole, I realize I have experienced an incredible amount of failure along the way.
The first ever travel team I played for had a record of zero wins and 42 losses (yes, in Toronto at that time, that was how many league games we played. Crazy, I know). For 4-5 years after that, I continually tried out for all of the AAA programs that my friends were making and I was consistently cut on the first night.
Later in my playing career, I was a walk-on at the University of Toronto. I made the team against all odds, but sat on the bench or in the stands for much of my first season only to enter my second season feeling that I would move up on the depth chart. I ended up going back to Junior A hockey for the second part of the season to get more playing time.
In roller hockey, after making Team Canada’s national team as a 21-year-old (the youngest player on the team) and winning a world championship, I was cut the next season coming off of a wrist injury just when the world championships was to be hosted in my home province Ontario for all of my friends and family to see.
In public speaking, my second ever presentation at a USA Hockey coaching course, I lost my voice and stumbled through an embarrassing presentation and wasn’t asked back for a couple of years.
And as a club president, I have gone through massive transformations of the club’s programming, staff, and even location, and experienced dark times of uncertainty surrounding the club’s future.
In contrast, my love for playing the game never wavered as a young player and I ended up playing at higher AAA, junior and collegiate levels than any of my friends growing up.
I went on to play three more seasons for the University of Toronto’s nationally-ranked Varsity Blues and received regular playing time and was voted the team’s most improved player in my final season.
I went on to play in five more world roller hockey events, including world championships, the Pan American Games, the World Games, and was named a First Team World All-Star once and a team alternate captain on three occasions.
I have gone on to many more public speaking engagements, including a presentation at USA Hockey’s Annual Congress one summer in front of approximately 1,000 people and recorded and distributed online.
And the Wildcats/Jr. Reign has gone on to be named a USA Hockey Model Association and built a great relationship with our rink owners and an incredibly strong foundation for the future.
So why I am telling you all this? What is the point?
In each of these scenarios, success did not come until after failure. Often, you have to be bad before you can be good at anything we pursue.
The point is, if we don’t put ourselves out there, we will never have a chance to experience that success. Maybe we will avoid failing, but we certainly won’t be successful either.
Can you see how important this topic is? How it relates to playing the game of hockey? Think about the best players – are they afraid of making mistakes? Do they play conservatively with worry and regret? How about in life? In school? In work? In relationships?
This may be the single most important thing for young people to consider and for parents to discuss and encourage with their kids and for coaches to think about with their approach with kids.
Ben Frank is the president of the Ontario Jr. Reign, a USA Hockey Model Association.
(Feb. 12, 2018)