Wow, what an amazing week. After 35 attempts since August of 2020 all of our hard work and effort finally paid off and we succeeded! No, I’m not talking about landing a large and important client. No, we’re not rolling out a revolutionary product, nothing so grandiose. The monumental event is that we, the Bardown Bandits, my recreational hockey league team, won our first game.
What, wait, is this a sports blog and newsletter? Why should you care? Because the story of our journey is a story of perseverance and teamwork with huge, important leadership lessons. In order to appreciate the lessons, you need a little background so please bear with me.
The Bandits (as we usually refer to ourselves) are neophyte, adult, hockey players. All of us started playing as adults. All but one player started playing after their 30th birthday and a few of us, my wife and I included, were north of 50 when we started playing. In fact, I’m the second oldest player behind my wife (she is two months older than I am) and we were almost 60 when we started playing.
After all the rinks in San Diego shut down at the beginning of the pandemic, only some opened up and started holding leagues in the summer. A group of us formed a team and started playing. While we thought it would be in a division of comparably skilled players, we were wrong. Since there was so little hockey, many more skilled players could only get on rosters in divisions that were for less-skilled players. For the Bandits, this meant there were always players on the ice who could score almost at will. The result, our 0-33-2 record (yes, we got two ties!) over 2 seasons plus.
How did we perceiver and keep at it in the face of such odds? We kept our eye on the prize. For us, it was about doing something we loved every week with people whose company we enjoyed. How does this relate to you and your business? Every company faces something similar in their time. Maybe you’re just starting out and your competitors are better established more experienced companies; maybe you’re bringing a new product or service to market like we had a new team; perhaps you’re playing catchup with technology. That was us, we were a new product, our team, in an established market, against entrenched competition.
They say steel sharpens steel and that’s what happened to us. We focused on what went well, not what went wrong. We didn’t let the defeats defeat us. Every week we got better. We moved the puck better, we saw the ice clearer, and we learned to play to our strengths. With the coming of this summer, other rinks opened up their hockey program. We moved back to our home rink. Last Sunday we played a team made up of people we had played competitively against before the pandemic and after 35 games without a win, we put it together.
How are you dealing with adversity in your team? Are you focusing on your bigger purpose, who you serve? We focused on having fun, that was our purpose and no one was going to derail us from that goal. Are you focusing on what went wrong or what went right? In my April 2017 blog post, “Are you Focusing on the Right Thing” I discuss how success breeds success why it is important not to focus on our failures. If we had focused on the losses we never would have made it. Every game we did somethings well. Frequently we would win 2 out of 3 periods but the one period we lost was big. We didn’t dwell on the one period but rather the other two and we set out to repeat until we could put it together for all 3 periods. In our winning game, we had two weak periods, both ending in ties (as opposed to a large score differential). In other words, we elevated our weakness to the point where it didn’t offset our strongest period. You can only do this when you focus on your strengths.
What do you focus on when your team is struggling? Comment below and let me know.