It’s now into December and things are slowing a bit in my commercial investment activity. I’m not sure if that is market driven, more likely my own self-imposed slow down. We as a family really enjoy the holiday season (probably overdo it by most standards) and I personally make of point of using this time to reconnect with family, friends, and even with myself.
I’m sure most would raise a Spockian eyebrow to reconnecting with one’s self. For me, it’s a time to reflect on things done right and some that were not so right. Looking into the New Year with an eye towards planning and strategy, goal setting and the usual host of sound business activities we have been taught and hopefully find a way to undertake.
It’s also time for some introspection. Am I happy with my life, my relationships? I like to think I follow or at least attempt to follow the stoics path, how am I doing there? What’s my work ethic, my perseverance like? Have I operated with honour and ethics?
By the way there is no answer here, no goal, no destination, only a never-ending path and your perception of whether you’re on the path or straying.
So that said, I’m in my office yesterday cleaning out some old files and reflecting on what I perceived as a bland year when I come across a letter written by my daughter Kate. I’m not sure who or why it was written and haven’t had a chance to ask. It was written by her last summer, the summer of 2017. She would have been 17 at the time and in the middle of trying to make a final university selection.
I encourage you to take a brief moment and read it. You may enjoy it and if you have kids looking to play a sport in University you may find it actually helpful.
If you should read it, my point here though is not the mechanics she has gone through; it is the journey. It’s the hardship, the sacrifice, the relentless pursuit of what she wanted. I don’t want to blow this out of proportion, I get it, she’s not a gold medalist nor is she going to Harvard on a full ride. But as investors and entrepreneurs, most of us are not Warren Buffets or Elon Musk. The point is this: if we want to be successful in our own right, then the characteristics she exemplifies in her own personal journey are exactly the ones we also need to embrace.
As a parent I couldn’t be prouder. As a business person, I can tell you, as I plan for next year, I’m doing what she’s doing!
The Long Road
I love to play hockey. I first touched the ice when I was about 4 years old and it has been a passion ever since. In fact, such a passion that I have dedicated a significant portion of my life to games, practices, extra training, shooting skills, you name it and I have likely been part of it. In addition to this commitment there is of course the sacrifices, the missed birthday parties, family holidays, concerts, etc., all in the name of playing the “game”.
My passion for the game also came with a fear. What to do when my club days were over? I couldn’t imagine forced retirement at the age of 18 and I certainly wasn’t ready for the woman’s beer league. The clear course was to play in university and I set my sites firmly on that single goal.
This course was anything but an easy path; in fact the challenges were formidable. You see, although I was a fair hockey player I was not a phenome. I hadn’t made any scout’s radar at an early age nor was I playing on any of the high profile club teams likely to garner university attention. Further complicating the process was that fact I was a late bloomer, by the time my size and skill were beginning to show the universities were saying “sorry, too late our team is already full”.
My only option was to literally slug it out in the trenches. I had to build data bases with contacts for every school icing a women’s hockey team. I had to write knock your socks off intro letters to at least elicit a response. I had to have self-profiles, video, recommendation letters, coach’s endorsements, basically any piece of info that could potentially generate some interest from a coach. Further, I had to be in contact continuously with new information. Tenacity was critical, any one and done contact was the kiss of death if you were hoping for a response from a head coach. I also had to learn quickly that you cannot take the first “no”. My answer to “no” was always the same “ok coach, thanks so much here is my (insert new info) and I will continue to be in touch in case anything changes”.
My ultimate goal, get a coach, a scout, any warm body to actually come and have a look. Occasionally and often to my own surprise, I did manage to get the odd university representative to come to a game, but almost to a person they told me they had come because of my relentless pursuit rather than my stunning play.
You might think if you get somebody out you are headed down the right path, but that is far from reality. Think about it, you finally get someone to a game but you are likely in a game for about 12 shifts at about one minute a shift. Now all your years of work, your sacrifices your blood, sweat and tears all comes down to 12 minutes on the ice, if they watch the whole game. I hated it! Anything can happen, you’re not 100%, your team is off, one bad pass or defensive mistake, maybe you are in a bit of a slump, none of it matters though, you are going to get one look and one look only. In my opinion, nothing is more unfair, but that is the reality and another hurdle to overcome.
I wish I could say the story has a happy ending but the truth is; the story is still being written. I was fortunate enough to eventually garner some interest and I have now been offered several positions with Division III schools. I have not yet committed but hopefully will find the right fit and do so in the near future.
One thing for certain, the process has been an unbelievable learning experience, both in salesmanship and work ethic. There is no doubt the experience will serve me well in my future endeavours.
As this particular journey comes to an end, I can’t help but think about something my dad often said. “You are what you overcome”. I know it was from a book he was always harping on, but as I look back I realize it’s absolutely right. I have become what it took me to get here.