10/28/2014 03:03 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Six Business Lessons I Learned From Trying Out Hockey

Recently, at the age of 44, I made the terrifying and exhilarating decision to take adult ice hockey lessons. While I had only put skates on my own feet twice in the past decade, both of my daughters' play youth hockey. Their program offered a Hockey for Hockey Moms class. Why not give those of us who spend so many hours at the rink the opportunity to get on the ice ourselves? There are some great business lessons to be learned from this process.

  1. Everything is easier when you are in motion - Ever feel like you want to stop everything you are doing and reassess? Be careful. When you stop, you need to restart completely. Everything (turning, reorienting, speeding up) is faster and easier when you are in motion already and can just correct instead of restart and recreate momentum.
  2. Sometimes you can feel the precise area of your weak spot - So it turns out that backward skating uses a muscle group in my calves that I haven't used in approximately 23 years. My first time attempt to cross the rink backward, I could feel the actual contracting of the muscle group I was using. This happens in business often as well, where we can pinpoint a precise muscle we need to exercise before we can improve.
  3. Don't make judgments until you have put on all the equipment - You know that frustrating moment you have when you are watching someone do something and you know you could do it better? Until you have worn that equipment and been in that moment, you don't know anything. I have harshly judged my daughters' often from the sideline for missing the shot or not showing enough hustle. The world looked very different when I was wearing that heavy equipment and looking through a metal cage. While your employee turning in the report late might not be wearing fifteen pounds of equipment, can you learn anything from looking at things from his perspective?
  4. Hitting the wall isn't always a bad thing - Stopping is hard. Stopping on ice is really hard. Stopping in business can be super duper hard. Sometimes though, the wall is placed in the perfect place to prevent you from completely losing the flow of the game.
  5. Success cannot come without trust - You know how hard stopping is on hockey skates? It is so hard it brings up two business points. At the start of the class I had no idea even conceptually how to stop. By the end of my first class, I can say that I conceptually understood the process but I couldn't actually execute on that understanding. The missing link between understanding how to stop and actually being able to stop consistently? Trust. I see how the mechanics work, but I know that until I trust that that blade will stop me, it won't work. (I am getting better though... Patrick Kane watch out!).
  6. Sometimes the world is against you, but often they are cheering you on. - A funny thing happened on my way into the rink for my first class, all these people grinned at me. Now I walk into that same rink all the time with my daughters and have never had a similar reaction as when I walked in holding my own hockey bag. At first it seemed like people were laughing at me (who do these moms think they are trying to learn hockey?). I soon realized though that it was precisely the opposite emotion, respect, driving these looks. It is common for rink dwellers to see young boys and girls trudging in with hockey gear and moms in tow. A bunch of moms coming in to learn hockey? That is something to celebrate and to lend some support.
So, with all that mind, I invite you to try something totally new and different and think about what lessons you can learn and apply to your business. I would love to hear your results in comments below.