When I first heard these words I was all of 11 years-old. I was playing youth hockey and it was my first year playing. Back then (1962) we played on outside rinks in Kenmore, NY, a suburb of Buffalo. The temperature often hovered in the single digits at our games and when it would snow they’d have to shovel the ice between periods. My dad, Canadian by birth but a naturalized U.S. citizen would often say, “You’re not a real hockey player unless you can back check into a 30 mph wind!” That wasn’t all he said. Whenever he dropped me off at the rink for practice, he’d grab my arm to get my attention and as my eyes met his, he’d say the same thing every time…”Play like it’s the Stanley Cup!”
That was some 50+ years ago. Now, at age 66, I am still ‘lacing ‘em up’ and playing hockey with a bunch of aging men. Every time I take those first three or four strides on the ice and feel that rush of cold air on my face, I’m 11 years-old all over again. I cannot describe the feeling, how special I feel to still be out there playing a game I love. Maybe the only thing I enjoy more than playing the game is watching Stanley Cup hockey once the playoffs begin.
Every year brings new excitement in Stanley Cup play. Overtime games, game sevens to decide series’ winners, hard-hitting checks, great goaltending, the occasional fight, and of course, when each series ends, the traditional lineup and handshake by two teams that for 7-10 days were basically trying to hammer each other into oblivion. Bloodied, bruised, they line up, look each other in the eye, exchange messages of respect to one another, and shake hands, in some cases, even exchange brief embraces. It is a classic moment in all of sport and one that shows the ultimate respect that professional athletes (hockey players, at least) have for one another. There is nothing else quite like Stanley Cup hockey in professional sports.
When my dad died in 1984, there were many people who came by the funeral home in Buffalo to pay their respects. One of those people was a little guy in a brown leather jacket who showed up by himself. Salt and pepper uncombed hair, unshaven face, by appearance I could tell he was mid to late 60’s and maybe he was all of 5’5” tall or as one might say, vertically challenged. He went up to the casket, paid his respects and as he turned to walk away I saw him wipe a tear from his cheek. Not knowing who this guy was, I approached him and introduced myself, explaining that I was my dad’s middle of three sons.
With a sheepish grin on his face, he gave me a little hug and said, “Oh, so you’re Buddy. I used to play hockey with your dad at South Park High School.” As soon as he said that, I knew who he was.
“You must be ‘Shorty’ Minor” I said in an excited voice and he raised his eyebrows in amazement.
“You actually know who I am?” he inquired.
“Absolutely!” I said. “My dad used to tell me stories about ‘Shorty’ Minor, this scrappy Right Winger and how in the game against Bennett High School you checked a guy right over the boards into the Bennett bench!”
He looked down at his shuffling feet, grinning, shaking his head. He obviously appreciated that someone, some kid who was some 30 years younger than him, actually knew who he was and about his exploits as a high school hockey player. He smiled at me and said, “You know, your dad was quite a hockey player and more than that, he was our leader. He wore the “C” you know; he inspired us.”
I just nodded my head because that’s how I had always thought of my dad. And then Shorty said something to me I’ll never forget. He looked at me and said, “You know what I will always remember about your dad, Buddy? Whenever we got ready to go out of the locker room and take the ice, he’d say the same thing to us. He’d say, ‘Boys, let’s play like it’s the Stanley Cup!” As he spoke the words, his lips quivered for a moment. He wiped a tear from his cheek and then he said to me, “I loved your dad.”
Not very often men of that generation spoke those words about their true feelings. That moment was a very special for me; one of those indescribable life moments that you just always remember and carry with you in your heart. I will never forget the moment, ‘Shorty’ Minor, or of course, my dad.
“Play like it’s the Stanley Cup” may be an expression that comes from the game of hockey, but in reality, it is its own philosophy of life. To live your life as though you are playing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs is to make the very most of your God-given gifts and live life to the very fullest. No wasted shifts, no regrets, no holding back, just taking the ice and being thankful you even have the opportunity to play the game and be in it 110%.
The life we live is just that…one life. There are no dress rehearsals and once a shift ends, there is no taking it back or ‘do overs.’ You just live the moment and make the very most of every experience. So, whether you’re a high school hockey player sharing the inspiration of those special words in the locker room with your teammates or a loving father sharing them as a life lesson with your son, the message will always ring true…”Play like it’s the Stanley Cup.”
Bud Boughton’s latest book, Coaching is Teaching at its Best! has been chosen to be featured at the 15th Annual Holiday Author Fair in Indianapolis. The Author Fair will be held on Saturday, December 2nd from Noon until 4 PM in the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center.
Boughton, who has authored three books and numerous articles says he is excited to see his latest book getting this kind of attention. “I am so excited and passionate about this book because I truly believe it can have a significant impact on the overall quality of the youth sports experience in America. We need to help youth coaches in all sports be the best teaching coaches they can be and that is exactly what this book is about,” said Boughton.
Of special note, December 2nd will be a FREE admission day to the Indiana Experience and to the Author Fair at the Indiana History Center. Coaching is Teaching at its Best! is now available on Amazon.com.
We’ve all read them. Books, articles and blogs on leadership, all espousing what it really takes to be a leader in today’s hectic, fast-paced world. In these challenging times of non-stop innovation and advancing technology, however, the articles I read on leadership seem much the same. Each is filled with many of the same adjectives and characteristics that we have used to define leadership for the past 30+ years. This is probably because we continue to define leadership in the same way.
The model hasn’t changed. Hear the word “leadership”, and we see the same thing; a man or woman standing on a pedestal and people crowded around listening to his/her every word for explicit instructions about what we are to do next. The leader is defined with the same characteristics –bold, courageous, decisive, a take action/take charge person, positive but driven and demanding. He’s the quarterback, the all-knowing Peyton Manning or Tom Brady individual who personifies the organization and its success. And so, we continue down a path defining leadership in the new millennium just as we did in the 1970’s and 80’s, using the same model and adjectives to describe a leadership model we used years ago. What are we thinking?
Our world today is vastly different from what it was even 17 years ago at the turn of the century and the model for leadership in today’s world of technology-driven madness and instant self-gratification needs to be different as well. If there is such a thing as Leadership 2.0 – I would contend it isn’t what you think it is. Successful leaders in today’s world, those who choose to practice Leadership 2.0 as I have termed it, will see their role as a leader defined by very different characteristics and principles.
Bud Boughton will return to his alma mater, Ashland University in Ashland, OH on Wednesday November 15th to give several guest lectures. Bud will speak in a general session to students at Noonand will also speak in several business classes. His presentations will touch on leadership, the impact of technology in today’s business environment and the increasing value of a liberal arts education in today’s world. Boughton graduated Cum Laude from Ashland and is a member of the Ashland University All-Sports Hall of Fame. The published author, whose most recent work Coaching is Teaching at its Best! is winning rave reviews, is still a teacher and coach at heart and provides consulting services to companies on their sales and marketing strategies and culture development.
In my latest book, Coaching is Teaching at its Best! I made mention in Tip #5 (Go to Practice with the Right Attitude) of a unique philosophy of life that is expressed as an alphabetical formula. E + R = O represents a philosophy that can be applied to virtually every aspect of one’s life. The credit for this philosophy actually goes to Jack Canfield, a California-based, motivational speaker who is also the author of the best-selling Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Simply put, this philosophy is meant to teach the importance of attitude (how we respond to events in our lives) in order to impact those outcomes.
The formula reads, E + R = O with the “E” standing for Events. Throughout our lives, each of us is impacted by certain events, some good and some not good. In fact, some may be absolutely horrific. While we may bring some of these events onto ourselves due to poor choices or irresponsible actions we may have taken, in many cases these events are totally outside of our control. They are just things that happen to us in life. The “R” stands for Response. When those events do occur in our life, while we cannot change the actual event, we do control how we respond to it. How we respond to those events is totally up to us and how we respond will largely determine the “O”, the outcome or end result.
So, if you are looking for a positive outcome, then it makes sense that you need to have a positive response to the event. Unfortunately, many of us seem to think the “R” stands for react and this, in most cases leads to a negative outcome. A response, while guided by well-grounded thought and logic, is far different from an instinctive reaction. But, in today’s hectic, fast-paced world of non-stop, 24/7, self-serving technology and instant gratification, how do we remind ourselves to slow down, to hit the pause button and take that deep breath to help us find that positive response that will ensure a positive outcome?
Bud Boughton will be one of the guest speakers at the upcoming Men IN Action breakfast event on October 5th at the Washington Township Park Pavilion in Avon, IN.
The program for the October event will be led by Sheltering Wings, a domestic violence shelter that has been changing and saving the lives of women and children in Hendricks County and surrounding areas for almost 15 years. Boughton will be speaking on the role coaches must play in setting an example and teaching their players that there is no room for disrespectful behavior, verbal abuse and violence in our society, especially as it pertains to the treatment of women.
Men IN Action is designed to encourage men to build each other up, hold one another accountable, challenge the status quo, and navigate life by being positive role models for our youth. See the invite below for details on making reservations for the event.
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Bud Boughton will speak at the NAWIC (National Association of Women in Construction) on August 8, 2017
On Friday, March 31, 2017 Bud will be speaking in downtown Indianapolis, Indiana at the Indianapolis Optimist Club.