Thursday, June 10, 2010

Effects of (Becoming) a Champion

The triathlon blog takes a backseat to the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks today. What part did I have in winning it? Nothing. Did I enjoy it? You bet. I won't give you my "hockey resume" of how many games I've seen, etc. Who cares?

To understand the Chicago Blackhawks' journey to winning a Stanley Cup, you have to understand some human psychology and THAT relates back to triathlon.

Since I was a kid, hockey was NOT on TV in Chicago. Radio only. The old owner, "Dollar" Bill Wirtz was once quoted as saying, "If games are on TV people won't come to the stadium and drink my liquor." The Wirtz family owns one of the largest liquor distributors in the United States. Hockey was near death in Chicago. When Mr. Bill Wirtz passed away, his son Rocky took over the franchise. He made instant changes: ALL Hawks games were on TV, WGN and it's 50,000 watts (38 states and Canada) became the radio home, they invited once wronged Hawk veterans to return and heal old wounds. "We aren't in the grudge business" he said. The emotional baggage surrounding the team was cut loose. It felt like the Blackhawks were a NEW team. The air was clear. The wheels were now fully in motion.

The ATTITUDE had changed.

When I said I wouldn't tell you my hockey resume - I partially lied. I was at the December game, just after Christmas, where the Blackhawks worked hard to overcome a three goal deficit and win a regular season game. The crowd kept encouraging the Hawks in spite of bad breaks. The crowd could have boo'd, but instead every person kept yelling to "KEEP TRYING! WE CAN WIN THIS!" After the game and win, the players came to center ice and raised their sticks in salute to the fans. A tradition that continues today. Toews, Kane and other players pointed into the stands and acknowledged the encouragement. A cool moment. They had started to believe they could do it.

Often we need to believe or have someone else believe in us and SHOW US we can be great.

The attitude of people around the team went from bitter and mean to encouragement and "One Goal", the team's theme for the last few years. The goal - win it all. Imagine what YOU could do if you believed in ONE GOAL?

So, is it worth it? How about the plane being greeted by a champion salute by the fire department at 4am? Buildings changing their lighting?

Partying with your friends and mates who believed in each other to accomplish great things well into the NEXT DAY!

It CAN be done! You don't have to be a pro to do it. You can do great things like losing some weight, helping a neighbor, combat a disease, qualify for Ironman, win your age group or "just" finish.

For me personally, this spring represents my second spring as a RIF'd employee. A very hard stretch mentally. What did I do? Earn ratings of 5:5 and "A+" from the President of the companies I worked for. Being new leadership to these two companies, I was released from employment as seniority was the only rationale for cutting employees in down economic times. Fair? No, but taking a quote from Rocky Wirtz, I'm not in the grudge business (either). My coaching and project/program management skills are on par with the best in my industry. Do I know everything? Of course not. Nobody does. In project management, I have done amazing things in multiple countries and languages. Do I know everything? Of course not. Am I the most knowledgeable multisport coach on Earth? No, But one thing for sure, I'm pretty damn good. Did the Blackhawks "give" me confidence? No, but I see a parallel in our life experiences. They did help me see that.

The guys winning the championship for the city doesn't change a lot for the unemployed or those struggling with many issues. It didn't stop the BP oil "leak" in the Gulf or even slow it. The really big problems still exist. Somewhere, somehow, I hope that a struggling person or persons start to believe in themselves too. Great things can happen when you do.

The air is clear. The wheels were now fully in motion.

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