(AP/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Ever since I decided to leave my dream job coaching at Cornell, I have been trying to find another passion that gets me up in the morning ready to conquer the world.  I can tell you, with complete conviction, that this has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever attempted to do.  

I went from going 100 miles per hour coaching, traveling, and recruiting…to sitting and thinking, hour upon hour, about what the heck I was going to do with the rest of my life.

All this free time…sounds fun, huh?

Nah, not so much.

The thing is, my identity has always been securely rooted in the game of hockey.  It’s all that I’ve ever known.  But as I continued to sit in thought, day after agonizing day, I began to realize that it wasn’t really the hockey that encapsulated my identity.

It was everything that came with it.

The mental and physical battles.  The relationships.  The never-ending quest to improve.  The passion.  The LIFE.

I realized that my identity was not just rooted in hockey.  It was rooted in everything I’ve learned from the game that has brought me to where I am today.  And upon this realization, I found a new purpose through using my experiences in hockey to have a positive impact on others.

Ahhh, Lightbulb Moment! Nice!

With Prodigy Hockey, I am grateful to have been given a platform to write and make an impact on the lives of others.  And I am extremely fortunate for the experiences and positions that have allowed me to gain this uniquely informed perspective of the game.

But this post is not just about my perspective.  It’s about something much more than that, and derives from a little venture that I have been working on for the past several months…

Remember all that free time I had?

I decided to use that time to explore the attributes and commonalities of insanely successful people.  Those who have worked their way to the top and have truly made a difference in the world around them.  My goal was to understand how and why these people achieved their goals and dreams.

So I dove head first into numerous books and autobiographies.  The subjects I consumed included Coaching, Business and Entrepreneurship, Developmental Psychology, Sports, Leadership, Parenting, Self-Help, and Military Training.

And after months of being immersed in gathering knowledge, I began to see a few commonalities regarding the research and the people who defied the odds and achieved their dreams.  

But there was ONE ESSENTIAL ATTRIBUTE to success and well-being that was fanatically consistent throughout every material that I read:


ALL of the successful people I read about failed enormously throughout different stages of their journey.  Yet they all seemed to recognize and appreciate the valuable lessons from their challenges and ended up turning their setbacks into positives.  They got knocked down numerous times, but they always found a way to come back better than before.  

And I got to thinking…

Thinking about our kids today.  Thinking about coaching our generation of kids today.  And thinking about how whenever I hear people talking about coaching our kids today, it always comes with a negative connotation.

“They don’t understand accountability” … “They are all entitled” … “They are soft” …

It’s not their fault.  

And I think we as coaches, educators, and parents need to take a long, hard look in the mirror.  

WE are the people that are giving our kids trophies for participating.  WE are the parents that complain when our kids don’t get what we feel they deserve.  And WE are the coaches that sit idly by and let these things happen.

We are NOT teaching our kids how to be resilient.  By shielding them from pain when things don’t go their way, we are failing to equip them with the skills necessary to survive in the real world where adversity is a daily occurrence.

WE need to do a better job at teaching kids how to fail.  WE need to do a better job at teaching kids that their destiny is in THEIR control.  And WE need to do a better job at teaching kids that life isn’t always fair.  Because at the end of the day…in the real world…LIFE ISN’T ALWAYS FAIR.  

We all suffer through tough and trying times.  It is a certainty of life.  And we can choose to teach our kids to see these times as beautiful opportunities or as devastating catastrophes.  

“Where Victims See Adversity, Achievers See Opportunity”

I want kids to learn to see adversity as a gift.  An opportunity to learn and grow.  And ultimately an opportunity that will make them better people (and players).

Just look at these guys at the top of their respective sports –

Sidney Crosby: Battled back from a concussion that almost ended his career. He’s since won a Stanley Cup and an MVP.

Steph Curry: Wasn’t heavily recruited out of high school. He is now an NBA Champion and an MVP.  

Anthony Rizzo and Jon Lester: Both fought and won battles with cancer.  They just led the Cubs to their first World Series in forever.


Tom Brady: Well, you know his story.

These superstars didn’t let adversity define their lives.  They let their perseverance be their story.  And they will be the first to tell you that going through the tough times was a defining reason for their success.

THAT needs to be a fundamental message that we teach our kids on a daily basis.  We need to communicate the value of perseverance in the face of difficult circumstances that are often out of our control.  

Every practice and game provides us with an opportunity to teach these values.  Values that are more important than skill development and small area games.  Values that our kids will carry with them for the rest of their lives and are proven to be sources of success and well-being.

We need to find creative ways to put our kids into tough situations…and teach THEM to find a way to make the best of it.  We need to take the cushion out from under them and allow them to make mistakes so they can learn the meaning of perseverance.

Kids are tougher than we think and are more resilient than we are allowing them to be.  It’s time to take their training wheels off and allow them to figure out how to learn from failure on their own.  

Because when our kids learn that failure is just an opportunity for growth, their journey towards success begins.  

“I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life.  And that is why I succeed.”

– Michael Jordan

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