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I was recently going through my leadership/professional development binder—a compilation of my own scribbles and thoughts from my time at West Point, and my brief stint as an army officer. In addition, I have several printouts from a variety of mentors with pearls of wisdom from their personal experience and other articles provided by these same mentors. I was looking for potential material to benefit Knight Vision Hockey members, and I stumbled on the perfect article—"The Seven Habits of Highly Mediocre People" written by Mark Sheffert, CEO of Manchester Companies, Inc.
The article discusses seven habits of mediocrity that prevent people, and the institutions they work for, from achieving greatness. The same seven habits can be applied to hockey players, and serve as an opportunity to examine yourself and see if there are any areas of your game where you may be exhibiting mediocrity. The seven habits Sheffert lays out in his article are the following:
- Don't Take Initiative
- Forget About Mission
- Blame Others
- Promote Self-Interest
- Don't Listen to Others
- Be Deceitful
- Don't Learn Anything New
We'll be examining each of these habits through the lens of a hockey player so if you notice any of them are creeping into your game, you can quickly mitigate them and keep pushing yourself and your team toward greatness.
Don't take the initiative.
Hockey players that don't take initiative either don't stand out at all, or they stand out in a negative way. Always making the same mistakes or never actively seeking out feedback to improve. Mediocre players think they're good enough where they're at, and usually just go through the motions in practice. Instead of welcoming constructive criticism or asking coaches how they can get better, they avoid those types of discussions and wait for their coaches to point out their mistakes or shortcomings.
Forget about the mission.
Don't get me wrong, playing hockey should be FUN. But as in any other sport or competition, the general idea is to WIN. Mediocre hockey players aren't necessarily committed to helping the team win. Whether it's by eating bad foods, staying up late before a game, or similar activities, mediocre players show up just to show up—they don't care about helping their team win.
It happens, some kid on the other team manages to go coast-to-coast and bury a sweet goal. What to mediocre hockey players do in those situations? Blame one of their teammates, of course! "The forwards weren't back-checking," "the defenseman shouldn't have pinched," "our goalie should've had that one"—surely you've heard some of those excuses before. A mediocre player doesn't accept responsibility for letting his guy get past him and doesn't work to make sure it won't happen again.
These players are always boasting and bragging about their stats, but likely couldn't care less about the team's win-loss record. The team could lose every game, but as long as these players are at the top of the league points chart, it's all good. That's a dangerous mentality to have in a team sport, and their teammates are probably sick of listening to them anyway.
Don't listen to others.
A mediocre hockey player gets comfortable playing a certain way, and never wants to change. Whether it's a coach drawing up some new plays and systems, or a teammate suggesting some adjustments after a shift, this player doesn't want to hear it. Hockey is a fast game, and constantly changing. There isn't room for a player who won't listen to others.
Didn't play well? "Oh, I was sick." Late for practice? "Well, my parents forgot to pack one of my gloves and we had to go back." A mediocre hockey player can't stand looking bad or having negative attention, so they'll lie or come up with excuses about how it was out of their control.
Don't learn anything new.
Mediocre hockey players are comfortable with where their game is at and don't seem to realize that in order to move on to the next level, they'll have to get better and try new things. Trying new things comes with the risk of looking bad, or showing weakness. For them it's easier to just stick to what they've always done.
Mediocrity is a curse and has no business in the realm of hockey. Hockey is a sport where warriors clash and battle on skates. There's no place for mediocrity. The solution starts with you as a hockey player, looking into the mirror. You can't go around pointing out to other players which of these traits you see in them—it doesn't work that way. You have to recognize if any of these traits are creeping into your own game and weed them out accordingly. You can approach team leadership and/or coaches about setting standards of accountability across the team, but the first step is eliminating the mediocrity in yourself.