Saturday, February 22, 2014

Don't Ask "What If..."

The Gold medal women's ice hockey game at the 2014 Winter Olympics was an epic battle between Canada and the United States. The Americans built a 2-0 lead and clung to a 2-1 advantage in the last two minutes. Canada pulled their goalie for an extra skater, and a shot from center ice toward the empty net slide harmlessly into the left goalpost with 1:26 remaining. Just 31 seconds later,Canada scored the game-tying goal and went on to win 3-2 in overtime. The photo above shows the puck just after making contact with the post. Mere inches meant the difference between what would have been a surely insurmountable 3-1 USA lead and Canada staying alive with a chance to tie.

What if...

The heartbreaking outcome for the USA women's hockey team brought on the inevitable questions- What if the puck had been a couple of inches to the right? An empty net goal would have sealed the game. Or, what if the USA had tried to skate it farther down ice before shooting? Or, what if... let's stop here- but you get the point- missed opportunities bring out the what if questions. The exercise can be part learning experience, part pity party, and part self destruction. Although we must hold ourselves accountable and assess our performance in all aspects of our lives, we must be careful  when asking ourselves what if questions.

Ask "Why Not?" Instead

If you want to pursue a career in sports business, it will be beneficial to shift the questions you are asking yourself from "what if" to "why not." The what if questions like those coming after the USA's fall in the Gold medal game are natural, but do not let them have too much influence on how your career unfolds. They are reflective in nature and although they are useful for improving performance they can also create regret over missed opportunities. 

I have talked to many students over the years that expressed an interest in working in sports business. Yet, a very small percentage of them follow through on their desires. Often, there are practical reasons such as inability to secure an internship or feeling that a steady income was needed following graduation to pay bills. We can logically defend any decision we make, but we can also find ourselves looking back and asking "What if I had..." 

Breaking into the sports industry is not easy- you have heard stories about hundreds of applicants for a single internship or job. That mountain should not be as much a concern as what you are doing to prepare to compete. When a question like "Why not believe I can be the person chosen for an internship or job?" guides your career preparation, you are more likely to engage in activities that will develop knowledge, skills, and relationships that will help you reach your goal. Yes, sometimes you will hit the post and miss, but at least you are in the game shooting for the goal you aspire to reach.