By Regan Bickell, Higher Landing Career Transformer
I love hockey. I do. My favorite player of all time is Lanny McDonald and I almost went into labour watching the Canada/US gold medal game during the 2010 Olympics. But just when I couldn’t love it any more, I started career coaching the players. If I could bottle the energy and the dedication of these guys and market it to industry, I would make a killing! Why do I think they are going to make amazing employees for prospective employers? For these reasons…
- Respect for leaders. Not one of these athletes will ever talk negatively about their former coaches or management, even if they thought they were the biggest jerks of all time. I have interviewed 1000’s of candidates outside of hockey and a good portion of them could learn from this practice.
- Pushing a peanut up a hill with your nose is fun. Because in all reality, that’s what it takes for these guys and gals to play professionally. They know from the very beginning that their chances are slim, but they travel miles away from family, they get up at the crack of dawn, and they put their bodies through hell for that chance to play the game they love.
- True passion for a career. Without getting warm and fuzzy here, hockey players are all heart. They lay it out on the ice. Knowing full well that a fifteen year professional career is a huge long shot, they still do it because they aren’t afraid to say “I love it.”
- Teamwork. Hockey players protect their teammates. They can have honest conversations around what they need from their line mates. They will give feedback if they feel like they have been let down. They will take a stern yelling from a teammate that isn’t happy with their play. And then they go for a beer.
- Mental toughness. Could you imagine if two competing companies were brought into a boardroom, lined up on opposite sides of the table and were set free to yell any indecencies possible, all while trying to reach incredible business targets? We would see grown adults cry and blubber. Many of our sensitive boardroom attendees couldn’t handle it. Yet these athletes are expected to perform in these type of environments every night. And they do.
- Positive Thinking. The best players can leave the previous game behind. So often it is hard to pick ourselves up after we have been disciplined or had a setback at work. But the individuals I have worked with see themselves as being so fortunate to play a game they love, that they feel like they owe themselves, their families and supporters, their coaches and their teammates to get back in the game. How refreshing this is…
- Dedication. The one thing that I learned from these guys is that I don’t need to work harder than they do. They show up to sessions prepared and ready to go. They love being challenged. They know from their experiences that putting in the work brings the results. And I know 100% that they will bring this to their new employers and careers.
When our Higher Landing clients arrive at the marketing stage of their program, they take on a panel of “Grizzlies”, where they pitch themselves to a panel of Executive professionals of very high ranking. This can be extremely terrifying for anyone. But one thing I have learned, my hockey clients can’t wait for the challenge. “When can I do it?!”, is their response.
To future employers of professional athletes, you are going to need to match the values above to harness the energy of these individuals. Don’t let their experience outside of industry sway your decision to hire them. Take it from me – THEY WILL SHINE. They just need the opportunity and, sometimes, some coaching on what makes them incredible off the ice too.
EDITOR'S NOTE: If you are, or someone you know is an athlete who competed at the world, Olympic or professional level, and has a transition story to tell, we want to hear it! Please send us your story using the Contact Us page or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.