Wayne Gretzky’s Top 3 Tips for Becoming the Best You Can Be

by Henrik Edberg

“The highest compliment that you can pay me is to say that I work hard every day, that I never dog it.”

Wayne Gretzky needs no long introduction. He is the most well-known ice hockey player of all time and one of the absolute best that there has ever been.

But how did he make that happen? Here are three of Gretzky’s tips that may give some insight into his phenomenal success.

1. Remember to have fun.

“The only way a kid is going to practice is if it’s total fun for him… and it was for me.”

I think this is a step that many of us have a big problem with. Or just forget about. Especially as we grow older.

Because when you find something you really love to do it doesn’t seem like work that much anymore.

When you do something you love you don’t have to push yourself so much. You keep going because you like doing it, not just because your want to reach some goal (although that can be exciting too). Taking action also becomes natural when you doing something you really want to do. A lot of the time you can’t wait to get going with it.

So the problem many of us encounter may not be that we don’t know enough tips to keep ourselves motivated to keep going. The problem may be that we are working on the wrong thing all together.

So do you find out what you really want to do?

I certainly don’t have all the answers for that one, but one tip is just to explore life.

To just try things out and see what you love. It’s easy to have theories about what you or may not like. But you never know until you have tried it for a while in real life.

And even if you haven’t found that yet remember that you can have fun with a lot of things in life. A light attitude where you look for the fun in stuff instead of a grown up kind of attitude where just about everything can start to feel like dreary work makes life a whole lot more enjoyable.

I think it’s important to remember that it is OK to have fun. And that it is your responsibility to find and create that fun. No one is going to just give it to you.

2. Practise, practise, practise today.

“Procrastination is one of the most common and deadliest of diseases and its toll on success and happiness is heavy.”

Anyone who is really, really great at something has put in a huge amount of practice. More practice than most people are willing to put in. A big part of that of course comes from having fun with what you are doing.

But another – perhaps not as exciting – part is simply to have the self-discipline to not procrastinate and not bury yourself deep in a hole of boredom and inaction. Because some days are just rough or you have tough time getting started.

There are a lot of tips for overcoming procrastination on such days, here are three of my favorites:

  • Recognize that there is more pain in procrastinating than not. If you have procrastinated a lot (like me) you might have discovered that: You procrastinate to avoid doing something that is boring, hard or something like that. You want to avoid that pain.  But after having some experience with procrastination you’ll probably realise that procrastination itself causes your more pain than actually just doing what you were supposed to. Realising the true amount of pain in the two choices will make it easier to get things done.
  • Just take the first step. When you start to look too far into the future any task or project can seem close to impossible. And so you shut down because you become overwhelmed and start surfing the internet aimlessly instead. That is one of the reasons why it is good to plan for the future but then to shift your focus back to today and the present moment. Then you just focus on taking the first step today. That is all you need to focus on, nothing else. By taking the first step you change you mental state from resistant to “hey, I’m doing this, cool”. You put yourself in state where you become more positive and open, a state where you may not be enthusiastic about taking the next step after this first one but you are at least accepting it. And so you can take the next step. And the next one after that.
  • Start with the hardest task of your day. Maybe you have an important call to make that you also fear might be uncomfortable. Maybe you know you have gotten behind on answering your emails and have big pile to dig into. Maybe you have the last five pages of your paper to finish. Whatever it may be, get it out of your way the first thing you do. If you start your day this way you will feel relieved. You feel relaxed and good about yourself. And the rest of the day – and your to-do list – tends to feel a lot lighter and easier to move through. It’s amazing what difference this one action makes.

3. Take the chances you get.

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

It’s easy to find a million excuses to not take a chance. To not take a risk. But as Gretzky points out, if you don’t take it then there is absolutely no way of succeeding. If you give it a shot there is always a chance that you might make it, even if the odds suck and you don’t even believe in it yourself. If you do that enough times then you will most likely have some success.

And succeeding is great. But just doing something and trying is great too. Because sometimes you will succeed. And the other times you can learn valuable lessons that will improve your skills and understanding and make it more likely that you will succeed the next time.

That’s what all the most successful people throughout history have done. They have failed more than most people and thereby learned more and in the end they have had a lot more success.

So the the absolute worst thing you can do is to try nothing at all.

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{ 29 comments }

Positively Present June 12, 2009 at 5:17 pm

These are EXCELLENT tips. I think practice is one of the most important things in life. The more you do something, the better you will become at it. Also, it’s important to take chances. In life we are offered many, many chances and sometimes we’re too scared or confused to take them. It’s always worth it to take a chance. #1 is the one I struggle with the most. Fun isn’t a top priority for me and I really need to work on that!

Henrik Edberg June 12, 2009 at 8:19 pm

Thank you! Number 1 is something that I think many have trouble with. Good luck with your work on that one and have a fun weekend.

Sam June 12, 2009 at 7:51 pm

I hate to be THAT guy but as a hockey player/coach I must point out; GretZky, not GretSky.

Henrik Edberg June 12, 2009 at 8:13 pm

Thanks for pointing that out, don’t know how I missed it. Should be fixed now.

"H" June 13, 2009 at 3:04 am

Concerning having fun, I imagine as I make my vocation my vacation, everybody around me will be happy.

Marcus June 13, 2009 at 3:22 am

This is life changing.. if you let it.

Im printing this and putting on my board on my restroom, everytime wake up reading.

I have problem concialliating one and two.

I practice all the time while having fun.. but sometimes I cant have fun practicing.. so I tend to not do :S.

Thanks Henrik

Henrik Edberg June 14, 2009 at 4:44 pm

Thank you very much!

Charley June 13, 2009 at 6:38 am

The quote from Wayne about “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” has long been a favorite of mine. In his best seasons, he still missed more than four out of five shots, but when he made one, he made one. He never let the four failed shots stop him from continuing to try.

Henrik Edberg June 14, 2009 at 4:45 pm

Yeah, it’s a favorite of mine too, and the remembering it gave me the idea for this article.

Carl June 13, 2009 at 12:09 pm

Great post – doing what you enjoy and doing more of it – even if you’re not very good at it – is really the secret of success in anything.

Up until the age of 30 I’d spent pretty much most of my life doing things ‘for the money’ and had a string of unsuitable jobs – after getting laid off for the umpteenth time I decided to choose a career based on the things I enjoyed in those mostly miserable jobs (I liked writing and working with people) and I became a secretary – back then that wasn’t a ‘man’ thing.

Now I’m a manager looking after 2500 students a year and I love what I do – but there’s still room for more! Simply doing the first tip in the post then leads to you wanting to do the other two tips more often – measured risks cause us to continually grow.

I know people who are stuck in life, and they do a lot of moaning about it – following these tips sets us free.

Henrik Edberg June 14, 2009 at 4:46 pm

Thanks for sharing, I’m glad to hear that you have found what you enjoy doing. :)

Scott June 13, 2009 at 12:21 pm

Practice makes perfect. This summer in particular I am going to practice my hobbies and interests so I can step up my game.

There is also a saying where I live and it is “shy barins (kids) get nowhere”. Which is true, without trying you’ll never find out what something is truly like. I’ve noticed that just trying things and some experimentation can also be one of the most fun things to do in live, it just keeps everything freash. :)

Great post

Henrik Edberg June 14, 2009 at 4:48 pm

Good saying, you have to find out from experience how something really is. And I agree, some experimentation can be a lot of fun and add refreshing variation to life.

M.S June 13, 2009 at 3:43 pm

thank you 4 the good article
sometimes its hard to find fun in our work and even life
i loved 1st quotation specially about hard work everyday and not dogging it ;)
keywords on my mind : fun.work.hard.slacking.sleeping..etc
cheer’s

Henrik Edberg June 14, 2009 at 4:49 pm

Thanks, happy to hear that you enjoyed the article!

Lisis June 14, 2009 at 5:22 am

For me the fun and taking chances parts are easy, but #2…? That part gets a little tedious and boring, I’m afraid. The self-discipline to repeatedly do the same thing until you get better at it is just something I’m not sure I was built with.

But 2 out of 3 isn’t bad, right? ;)

Henrik Edberg June 14, 2009 at 4:50 pm

Nope, 2 out of 3 sounds pretty good too. :)

Vincent June 14, 2009 at 7:07 pm

Hi Henrik,

Start with the hardest task for the day is a great tip to avoid procrastinating. Some times we tend to leave our most dreaded task at the end of the day and guess what happen? We dread it so much that we actually screw up our whole day thinking about it. Getting it done the first thing in the morning help us to remove the task from our mind and leave us free with energy to tackle other tasks. Definitely a great tip to get more things done.

Cheers,
Vincent

Henrik Edberg June 16, 2009 at 8:43 pm

Yes, it’s not always easy to implement but using that tip really pays off. Thanks for the comment!

Sun-shine June 15, 2009 at 3:54 am

Hardest task is to do the ‘not fun’ part.
The minute I get to my computer I look for a new post on Positivity Blog. I love reading the posts and so I do that without fail.
Now comes the Professinal stuff that I must read and NO FUN but challenging -thats when my mind just shuts down.
I have never been a procrastinator but FUN is the key word here.
If its fun ,we look forward to doing it and and its EFFORTLESS.

Thanks for the post .It always makes my day.

Henrik Edberg June 16, 2009 at 8:44 pm

Thank you! :) Hope you will have more fun and get more done.

Mavis June 15, 2009 at 7:27 am

thanks for the post! it was a good read. and practice is sometimes painful, but necessary. i agree that there’s no shortcut to anything, and that’s why i’m practicing my guitar everyday this holiday!

Henrik Edberg June 16, 2009 at 8:44 pm

That’s great, good luck with the guitar!

alwayswinner786 June 15, 2009 at 10:37 am

Great article!
Very useful tips .I like the first tip -to have fun. As we grow older we miss the fun part and then after sometime work become a heavy burden. But if we enjoy our work as we enjoy our games then work and life both become a pleasure .
Keep sharing.

Henrik Edberg June 16, 2009 at 8:45 pm

That’s very true, it’s easy to forget about the fun as we grow older.

Everything Counts June 15, 2009 at 7:59 pm

Nice piece of article. There is nothing better than to enjoy what we are doing. we will never feel we are being stressed upon by work. Also helps in keeping the mind always fresh and fit.
well said…keep it up.

Henrik Edberg June 16, 2009 at 8:45 pm

Thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed the article!

J Grants June 18, 2009 at 10:12 am

Nice tips from the “Master” no less.

Nea | Self Improvement Saga October 4, 2009 at 2:04 am

Just take the first step…. yes, yes, yes. So many people never make it because of this ridiculously simple piece of the pie. Nothing gets done if it doesn’t get started. Great article!!!

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