Self-management

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Be the Awesome Man

A Handbook for Young Men in Pursuing Happiness
edition:Paperback
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Always Change a Losing Game

Always Change a Losing Game

Winning Strategies for Work, Home and Health
edition:Paperback
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Let That Sh*t Go

Let That Sh*t Go

Find Peace of Mind and Happiness in Your Everyday
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
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Making Men from "The Boys"

Making Men from "The Boys"

Winning Life Lessons Every Young Man Needs to Succeed
edition:Paperback
tagged : hockey, success
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Excerpt

Another loss meant another 3 a.m. lecture. We’d unload our gear, exhausted from a four-hour post-game bus ride. Then we’d sit. And sit. And sit. We’d all sit in a two lines of folding chairs in “the dungeon” waiting for Lloyd to yell at us.

 

He walked into the room, hands in his pockets, gazing at the floor. You could hear our lounge’s blue lights buzz.

 

“I want to teach you guys a lesson.” He paused. “All night you guys were lost out there.”

 

He paused again and thought.

 

“When you’ve got a nose like mine, you know what your role is,” he said, pulling a hand out of his pocket and pointing at his face. “We need sacrifice out there…You’ve never had a doctor stick forceps up your nose after an elbow to the face, have you Davey?” He stepped right up to Kyle Davis and towered over him in his chair. Kyle shook his head.

 

“I didn’t think so. It’s because you’re soft. We lose games because you play soft. You bitch because the lounge ping-pong table is broken and you don’t have a TV in the dressing room. But guess what? You don’t deserve a TV. Winners get a TV. Winners get a ping-pong table. This place is not the country club anymore, Davey.”

 

I had seen this charade before. Lloyd would get right up in somebody’s face, usually a guy already in a bad slump, and then he’d dig into him. He’d looked you straight in the eyes, and you’d try not to stare back at the only clean scar on his face. The scar cut down the middle of his nose. It was clean because that is where the surgeon had to slice him open to rebuild that hook on his face after he broke it for the tenth time. The other scars were dirty and jagged, like leather torn on a barbwire fence. They came from sticks slashing his chin and knuckles landing on his cheekbones.

 

The truth was that every time he got right up in your face, his intermission coffee breath reeking inside your nose, you were forced to learn something from those rotten words he spit at you.

 

“Now you listen and you listen good: I do not care whether you love me or you hate me. I’m not here to make friends. But I’m going to make a winner out of you.” He stood straight and looked down the line. “I’m going to make winners out of all of you. I’ll do whatever it takes, and you can thank me later, so help me God.”

 

Often times, we did hate him. I was told early on by a veteran not to expect praise. If the coach wasn’t yelling at you that meant you were doing well. We got yelled at…a lot. Then he’d soften up and try to impart a lesson, albeit by singling somebody out.

 

“Murray, why are you here?” he said, staring down at a shaggy head of blond hair.

 

“I’m here to play hockey.”

 

Lloyd walked down, slowly, to meet Murray face to face.

 

“No. Why are you here? Why did we bring you here? Tell me why you aren’t on the oil rigs right now in minus forty with your beer-drinking buddies? Huh? What is your purpose on this club?”

 

Murray took a second and looked at the floor. A couple of the boys lifted their heads out of their hands. Somebody rattled an ice bag.

 

“I’m a digger. My job is to plant my ass in front of the net in their end and to get greasy along the boards in our end. I get the puck out, I go hard in the corners and I back-check through the middle. That’s my job.”

 

I liked Murray. He was one of those players that lived for the boys, a “beauty,” as they are called. These were the guys who knew they were either going to slug it out in the minors, or head back to their family farm or the oil rigs or a pulp mill. They played because they loved the game, yet they always had to eat shit from the coach.

 

Even though Lloyd said he didn’t care if we loved him or hated him, he loved these guys the most, the diggers earning scars. That’s why he yelled at them the most. They had the toughest role. They weren’t put on the ice to score. They scored with their face and their fists. The only thing separating them from the coach was thirty years of age and eight broken noses. As much of an asshole as Lloyd could be, he nurtured these guys. Yelling was nurturing in the dressing room. Lloyd was once one of these guys. He still wanted to be one of these guys. You could see his disgust to lose this much. That’s why you indulged him during these two hour, 3 a.m. tirades. We knew there was something to learn when he spoke.

 

“You’re damn right, Murray. That is your job. Now everybody knows your job.” Lloyd turned back to look down the line at the rest of us. “When you know what your purpose is, crystal clear, only then can you do your job properly. If we’re going to turn this ship around, each and every one of you needs to know your purpose on this club. Only then can we become winners. And you don’t need a nose like mine to become one.”

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