“Whatever it takes” (a bunch of different ways).
Three simple words but used together can take a lifetime to define. Some people may think gregariously and move into fight mode. Some may be more accustomed to outwitting and using the mind to win. Others may look to the psychology and search for rooted deeper meaning, socialists might hold on to feelings, anatomical tendencies might shift our thinking toward the body. All very interesting.
Walk into many sports team dressing rooms (Canadian version of a locker room) and these 3 words are likely in check. What’s really cool is that for many of us it means something different, at least initially. The first thing that comes to mind is real. So is your gut, that’s real too and it’s all interconnected.
STAR is the uncovering of those differences. I once took a personality lecture as part of a leadership conference, the material changed my life and the way I lead others. The key was STAR. Understanding that people look at a subject and grip to completely different things. STAR is an acronym to remember the “S” (Systems and Structure), the “T” (Theory and Technical), the “A” (Action) and the “R” (Relationships). It shifted my focus to layering. It allowed a deeper understanding of myself and the motivation of others. It’s helped me become a better son, brother, husband, father, friend and coach. 4 little letters and working its system, I could never have thought of its powerful impact…Amazing.
Before working in the NHL my communication would be my motivation. I mean, what “Whatever it Takes” meant to me was going to mean the same thing for my team right? For some it did. I’d be hollering out in the middle of my speech talking about grasping glory, standing firm on the front lines and doing “Whatever it Takes”. Our staff at PS Headquarters in Ottawa are definitely laughing right now, they know me all too well. Looking back, I just shake my head, I wasn’t smart enough to figure it out, my speeches we’re only connecting with the “A’s” in the room. I thought everybody that played hockey was an “A”, a fearless action oriented warrior? I was so wrong.
Failure leads to success. We’d been in a little funk and we needed to make a change. So instead of trying to change my team, I decided to change my communication. I delved back into the STAR profile and carefully crafted communication tailored to my audience. I had every player fill out a profile, answering specific questions to help me understand their motivation. My wife and I made it a point to have every player and their families over for dinner to discuss their answers, we took a different approach into investing and boy did we reap those rewards. Amazingly I quickly discovered that we had 4 different “Whatever it Takes” type of guys in our room. We had the S, the T, the A and the R. And they all needed a different spin. I quickly shifted my focus away from teaching and motivating the game as a single unit and begin to layer those personalities into my communication. I carefully crafted organized speeches that I would practice and recite almost like I was back in school, each paragraph was aimed to motivate the uniqueness of each player, I’d say “Trust your preparation, the work has already been done” to fire up the “S’s”, I’d then holler “We need to execute our outs on their 2-1-2 Forecheck and keep in mind that this goalie has been beat 5 hole 4 out of his last 8 goals given up, that revved up the “T’s”. I was on a roll, then I’d blast out “Our quest has just begun, we’re about to change the world, we’re going to be the first small city team to win the championship”, the “A’s” almost jumped out of their seats! I’d finish with “Listen to the crowd, they are here to support and celebrate you, honour them, do it for all the people who can’t be in this room today”, the R’s gripped their sticks. And boy did we play, everybody was going.
Fast Forward. We didn’t win the championship. But we sure tried and the boys brought it every night. We were a tough team to beat. It was a fun year. It was the year I learned how to coach. I needed to fail to go back to my knowledge bank and apply. I chose STAR and in the process found out that “Whatever it Takes” is awesome as a whole but even better as the sum of all its parts.
That lesson learned back in the French Elite league was huge. It helped me serve and foster relationships. That brought me to the NHL. It’s shaped our company culture and how we roll at PS. It’s added clarity to our vision of not only expanding our method but our culture of changing lives. It’s shown us “Whatever it Takes.”