Do you know how to play the game?

I’ve been ruminating about this post for quite a while and it is being finally ‘penned’ because of the quote I ran into yesterday.

“You miss 100% of the shots you never take.” – Wayne Gretzky

I couldn’t help but think about the world of entrepreneurship and innovation, where often a shot not taken is an opportunity missed. Unfortunately, in life (and by extension, in business), when to take the shot is not always apparent. Gretzky relied on a gut feel and hours and hours of practice to know, instinctively, when was the right time to take his shot. I ask, are you practicing and ready to step up and take your turn to shoot? Will you know when this time is?

One of the more successful musicians of the last few years has been Justin Timberlake. Now, I love JT – he can wear a man-vest like no-other-man-can but that is not the reason for his success. To me, his success is attributable to his ability to practice his game rigorously and then take his shot when it was time. Not only this, but take his game to another level through amazing collaborations. In an MTV interview I saw recently with JT and Timbaland, there was one other quote which really stood out to me.

  This, is money

“You see this…this, is money” – Timbaland, MTV Interview.

These guys are an amazing example of a collabroative approach. But, also, they know their game so well that it’s merely a matter of doing ‘their thing’ to create amazing results (ahem – ‘money’). Have a read of this Rolling Stone article for more on how the two came together to create songs for the Futuresex/Lovesounds album. It’s not easy, but Gretzky never said shooting was either. For them, their partnership and the way they go about taking their shot again and again produces immense success. For me, I’m learning how to play the game of innovation and entrepreneurship. I don’t know my game perfectly yet, but I’m working everyday on getting better. And I’m practicing by taking as many shots as I can.

3 thoughts on “Do you know how to play the game?

  1. A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be. – Wayne Gretzky

    Being where the near future is before the present gets there is also critical – its probably the seam between innovation and invention – going forward as far as you can without getting their too early and therefore before your audience/market gets there.

    Its probably about making the most of your opportunities and taking them even if they don’t look like good ones. My uncle has a saying “Put to see” (imagine is a sri lanka accent (a bit indian sounding but not Apu!) – Basically if you get the opportunity to take a chance – take it and see what happens. Its a lesson in life that takes courage but every now and then this happens –

  2. Yeah, I have heard that one from Gretzky too. I tend to agree – but I tend to think that being ahead of the game is often pure invention. Often in hockey, the ball can get turned over 🙂

    But, you draw an interesting parallel. In hockey, like any team sport, you have a lot of faith in your teammates to deliver you the ball. In fact, you’re sometimes not doing your job unless you’re where the puck is going to be. I think this is what organisations are always wrestling with…how to appease those happy to play behind the puck and wait for it to come to them and those that are making the quick lead behind the last defender to score.

    Again, sometimes you have to know when to shoot, and you have to practice so you’re ready to take it when it comes.

    I love your uncles saying – thanks, it goes into the bank. 🙂

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