Are you skating to where the puck is?

downloadHave you heard of Wayne Gretzky? Your answer will definitely be yes if you are either Canadian, into ice hockey or a general sports nut.

In Canada, Gretzky, a brilliant ice hockey player, is a national hero. Gretzky was so good that when he retired, his number – 99 – was retired from all North American professional hockey teams. He was once asked why he was so successful. He had no immediate answer for the reporter, but he went away and thought about it. Later he summed it up perfectly: “I skate to where the puck is going, not to where it’s been.”

The simplicity of this message belies what it conveys for us in business. It’s not the grand vision or the 90-day plan, but the simplest action I can take right now to achieve my goal. In ice hockey it is skating to where the puck is going; in business it might be making that phone call to a client, or having that difficult conversation with a team member.

This is backed up by current research in the recent best-seller Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader where the author, INSEAD professor Herminia Ibarra, shows that becoming a leader is not an event but a process with kinks and curves.

Ibarra turns the usual ‘think first and then act’ philosophy on its head, arguing that we learn through action. She says action increases your ‘outsight’: the valuable external perspective you gain from direct experiences and experimentation.

Of course through experience, champions such as Gretzky build up formidable outsight, but it all starts with that simple first step. Skating to where the puck is.

Please comment; I love hearing from you.

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  • Sundar Rajamanickam

    Lovely thought provoking simple mindset change that could make all the change in our lives. Good piece of information for everyone. This is very much applicable for the people in the IT and the ITES industry who have to upskill themselves to survive in the new age Cloud technologies and processes.

    • Yamini Naidu

      Thank you so much Sundar, always applicable in industries going through disruptive change.
      Best wishes

  • Reply

    Thanks for sharing Yamini.

  • David Stuart

    How interesting you mention this story. I referred to this quote from Wayne Gretzky only a few days ago.

    It was in relation to a Clean Language group I belong to. We were playing with using drawings to develop a person’s metaphor landscape (in a coaching/facilitation sense).

    I raised the idea (from David Grove, the originator of Clean Language) of being able to look at a drawing and not go to the obvious symbols in the picture, but to what is not there but should be there to make the picture complete.

    It’s like, “… going to where the puck is going to be”.

    • Yamini Naidu

      Love it David many thanks for sharing, that is why Wayne Gretzky’s quote is such a rich insight into life.
      Best wishes

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