I’ve come out of hibernation today to offer a slightly different and hopefully useful take on the responses so far to changes to the NIHL and our clubs as we all move on to the challenges of a brave new hockey world.
The sun has set on the great Premier/NIHL debate and as the sun rises on a new day for hockey it’s a good time to reflect on how we’re all dealing with it.
Blog posts have been written, opinions shared, texts sent, phone calls made, tweets tweeted, forum posts read and now is very much the moment for people to share how they feel.
The universal truth here is that for each person, what they say and how they feel is based on their own personal experiences. It is each person’s own reality and is therefore never wrong.
It’s important to remember that sometimes people merely want to be heard. To be listened to and absolutely not judged.
We all know that change is rarely simple and often controversial. How change is handled and communicated is key to its longer-term viability and whilst it is true that many organisations handle change poorly that in itself is never a valid excuse for not dealing with it well ourselves.
With any luck then, with this in mind and as the changes relating to second tier hockey in the UK bed in, let us have faith that the overarching infrastructure of hockey will take the time to monitor progress, listen to clubs and plan.
Quick fixes to complex issues are rarely successful in the long term, so it is important to continue to plan properly for the future.
It’s also true that for change to be the most effective it must be viewed as positive by those affected by it. Will people ever invest in change fully if there’s nothing in it for them and no way of feeling positive about it?
Taking this into consideration, communicating well at every opportunity is crucial and is where so many falter.
Equally important is the ability to see the perspective of others, not least because it’s possible to miss something important if we don’t.
Now stick with me here because it should become clear. When you’re thinking about change within the league or your own club, imagine you are in a room with dozens of other hockey people. An assortment of managers, coaches, players, fans and sponsors.
You are squished around the edges of the room, which is almost entirely taken up by a gigantic multi-coloured beach ball. You can’t see past it and you can’t see over it – you only see what is directly in front of you.
Some people in the room will see the beach ball has red and blue sections, and others will see it has green and orange sections – it simply depends on where you’re standing.
With hockey at the moment everyone sees the changes differently. Whether it’s managers, coaches, fans, players, sponsors, officials or referees. Each perception is valid, each is real and none should be rejected or rubbished as wrong.
But wouldn’t it be the most useful to look down into the room from a detached perspective and see it for what it is? To take into account other views and to move forward.
In order to see the whole beach ball we have to somehow rise above it and whilst we could all do with the big picture perspective it is most important for our governing body.
It is natural that for some the perspective will be a negative one and there’s nothing wrong with that (in small doses). It’s a valid expression of how something or someone makes us feel and it often surfaces as a result of a feeling of injustice. And it’s okay – but it needs to be temporary.
We are all entitled to our own truth – our own feeling of what is and was, right or wrong. And while we are sharing our own truths and opinions that are shaped by our personal experiences, it’s helpful to remember that the company we keep will often influence our thinking.
Take The Hockey Forum for example – as well as being a source of interesting facts, light-hearted communication and fun, it is also a safe haven for BMWs (somewhere to go to Bitch, Moan and Whine).
It can also be a dark and harsh place where it’s deemed okay to rudely challenge, judge and rubbish other people’s views under the safe cloak of anonymity. However you view it, it is rarely constructive.
So here’s a suggestion. Find a way to express yourself but step back from engaging in a continued dialogue that will prevent you from moving on. Spend some time wallowing in the sadness or injustice that you feel but don’t wallow too long.
Being dropped from a team, offered less money, feeling undervalued, or being forced to move on are all valid reasons to wallow but let’s not wallow endlessly. Step away from the misery and move towards thinking positively.
For anyone making decisions and communicating change whether it is on a personal level or club level remembering self-awareness can really help. Understand the impact of your words on others. Never underestimate the impact of a small gesture or of a few brief words.
Treat people how they want to be treated and not how you would want to be treated and always try to be fair, honest and courteous. Successful communicators are able to step back and see how the situation looks through someone else’s eyes.
And if things go wrong we should ask ourselves some questions. What can we learn from this? What will we do differently next time and what is there that is positive in this situation? Learning from the past is important but knowing when to let it go and move on is invaluable.
Finally, in a sport where players line up together at the start of the game to battle for the win, let’s none of us subscribe to the ‘que sera sera’ philosophy that whatever will be, will be, let us instead ‘carpe diem’ and seize the day.
Thanks to Paul McGee (@TheSumoGuy), international speaker and author, who gave me his blessing to use some of his ideas in this blog.
(Image permission: Rick Webb)