Waiting Is the Hardest Part

It’s like clockwork: the second he gets drafted he wants to play, and he wants to play in the NHL now! 

Is it even possible for a drafted NHL player to learn how to be patient with agents and parents pushing these athletes?

There is a correlation between age and the concept of waiting. Most research indicates that children don’t have the capacity to be patient until age six or seven. It’s a developmental ability and it’s also a learned ability. If children are not taught to wait, they won’t learn it. Lombardi was right again!

Children look to their parents to teach them. Unfortunately, we now live in a society where instant gratification is dominating and many adults have challenges being patient themselves. So how do their children learn it? Don’t know the answer, use Google. Home improvement loan go on line and be approved in five minutes. Online shopping is becoming more and more popular.  The consumer industry is predominately based on the concept that faster is better and we are seeing it now in our athletes.  Multimedia is teaching them and doing a crappy job.

An athlete gets drafted at eighteen. Their baseline for patience starts at seven years old at a minimum. Therefore, they only have eleven years of experience in dealing with how to be patience. They go through camp and get sent down to Junior or the AHL. They are given a list of development items by General Managers and coaches and off they go. However, when you dive deeper into this situation we find some interesting things. If the average age of a General Manager is 45 years old and his ability to develop patience started at seven years old he has thirty eight years of experience dealing with how to be patience. The athlete who is twenty and starts his patience at seven years old as well, only has thirteen years of patience development. A gap of twenty five years! Therefore, the challenge is how the General Manager and the Developmental team get these players to buy in. There is an art and a science to this and high performing organizations have figured this out.

Learning to wait for things is an important lesson, but we must also be taught how to do it correctly so the proper mindset can be maintained. Right now the Ottawa Senators appear to be on the right track. They have a number of prospects making their mistakes before 2000 people instead of 15,000, and a team that is covered by one beat writer rather than six. Athletes must go through stages of development before being able to take on a new action. However, situations beyond their control, like injuries force your hand and changes things. When this occurs there must be a plan to insulate the athlete and to make sure the development plan stays on track. Do not push them off the cliff and hope they fly. Give them a parachute, it slows things down and makes the landing a little softer.

Organizations need to understand the personality types they are dealing with and the characteristics of them. Are they a soldier, a mouthpiece, a manipulator, or a skeptic? Once identified they can build a plan to connect with the athlete. Some may require more patience than others, but at least you now know, and yes it takes a lot of work and organizations, fans and media need to be prepared for that.

As Tom Petty says, the waiting is hardest part!

Until next time!

Follow on twitter @Betweenthears2

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