Midwest Minute- May 11/16- "Define Success"

Published 10 May 16 09:13 AM | Vern McClelland 

Define Success

Our border community is patiently waiting for the Royal Bank Cup tournament to begin and Editor Mike of the Lloydminster Source asked me to write a hockey related column this week.

I hesitated, feeling it would be a challenge to draw a relationship between real estate (which is what I am supposed to commenting on every week) and hockey; but he’s the boss when it comes to what gets published in the paper so here we are.

I actually have no problem speaking about lessons learned from hockey. In fact, in a former career I was often called upon to give keynote addresses at conferences across Canada and sometimes pointed out the parallels between coaching minor hockey players and managing a workforce.

First of all, there are actually two teams. One plays the game on the ice; the other either criticizes or encourages from the stands. Both need to agree on a strategic direction or the program will fail.

Often there is no problem in arriving at a consensus in the dressing room about the purpose of the team. It’s the people upstairs that cause grief if their behavior is allowed to get off track.

So I would start every season with two meetings. One with the players; the second with the parents. Every healthy relationship pivots on trust and good communication. My teams would not play the first game of the season without all stakeholders buying in to the same goals.

Only once did I have parents pull their child from the program believing their son would get a better opportunity elsewhere. Two weeks later the kid came to me in the rink shyly asking if he could re-join the team.

I agreed on two conditions. First, it would be subject to an affirmative vote of his peers in the dressing room. That turned out to be an interesting discussion to sit in on but eventually all agreed to welcome him back.

Secondly, his parents had to meet with the coach and I. They did, and subsequently became strong supporters of all the young players on the ice.

I have had the privilege of managing some elite youth athletes and watch them go on to the junior, college, and pro ranks. But the ones I learned the most from were the kids who were left off the higher tiered team one year for one reason or another.

It was an economic time as bad as this one for rural communities. Most families wanted to keep their children in after-school activities but were struggling to afford it.

If you think your child doesn’t hear about household finances, you are wrong. Of course they hope to play with their friends but at the same time don’t want the family to hurt because of the cost created by their participation in a sport.

All the towns in the region were impacted so it was rather easy to map out a season long strategy with my fellow managers in the league of how we could cut costs of travel, tournaments, prizes, even after-game food and drink for our young athletes but still provide them with a quality experience.

We played competitively on the ice but treated the other teamsplayers like favorite cousins off it. Life friendships were formed between players and parents both across communities.

There are many stories from that particular group of rowdies. One thing is for sure, they taught us adults more about success than we ever taught them.

I still see many of them today. The boys have become men with their own families. All are contributors to the communities they live in, often in leadership roles, doing the hard stuff.

An exceptional number are self-employed. Not sure why, although I hope it is because they learned to be proud of who you are, the skills you have, and confident that no matter what hits life may throw at you, nothing is more satisfying than achieving results with others.

Vern McClelland is an associate broker with RE/MAX of Lloydminster and a partner with the Midwest Group. He can be reached at (780) 808-2700, through www.wesellmidwest.ca, or follow the team on Facebook at Midwest Group Lloydminster. 

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