What Wayne and The Babe Can Teach You About Life


Wayne Gretzky, retired NHL hockey player, is famed for saying “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”.  Babe Ruth, famous Red Sox turned Yankees baseball player, has several famous quotes to his name, one of them being, “Never let the fear of striking out get in your way.”

Gretzky claims he never had the hardest shot nor was he the fastest skater but what he did have was an amazing work ethic, he understood the power of the team and he knew that 90% of his success was a mind game not a physical one. In other words – he worked hard, and he persisted. He failed, he missed shots, but he kept trying until he became the greatest hockey player of all time according to the sports pundits. Over the course of 1487 regular season games, he made 894 goals. That means in 40% of the games he played, he didn’t score any goals. Yet, when he retired, he held or shared 61 records.  Babe Ruth hit 714 homeruns, a record not broken for almost 40 years. He also struck out 1,330 times. He believed in never giving up. He was confident, even though he said many times that every strike brought him closer to his next home run.

This isn’t a post about sports but more about success in general. Far too many people give up before they get started. They give up when the going gets tough or they put off the hard work because it’s unpleasant, OR they get hung up on perfection.

Because I’m in the world of Executive Search, I’ve spoken with more job seekers, disgruntled employees, and frustrated employers than most. Many feel stuck, yet are unwilling to take action to change. They ask for advice and more often than not, I tell them they have to change what they are currently doing. For some, that change may be uncomfortable – even anxiety provoking. So, the choices are A. Stay in your current situation and remain miserable or B. Be uncomfortable for a short while and at least TRY to achieve what you really want.

Want a raise? Ask for a raise.
Want a promotion? Ask for a promotion.
Want to land that big deal? Ask for the sale.
Want to date the person you’ve been pining over? Ask for the date.

What is the absolute worst thing that can happen? You are told No. That’s it. No. In fact, if you don’t ask, the answer is always No.

Will it always be easy?  No. Will you always get the answer you want? No. But what you won’t have is regret. Regret is far worse than No.

I don’t believe in the saying “Failure is not an option”, because failure is simply part of any successful journey.  It IS an option, one that you shouldn’t avoid – in fact you should embrace it.

In the end, avoiding the ask leads to woulda, coulda, shoulda…and a life of regret.