Dive 20: When to take an opportunity
Hey, it’s Alvin!
One thing I noticed over the years is: ice hockey players are sometimes reluctant to shoot the puck at the goal (or “the net”).
Because they see opponents in their way. They don’t see an opening. They’re painfully aware that if they just shoot the puck when someone’s in the way, it will get blocked by the defence.
What’s the point of trying?
So, they’ll pass the puck to a teammate… who sees the same problem. So, that teammate will pass the puck to someone else. At some point, all this passing leads to an opposing player intercepting the puck. That leads to an offensive attack by the opposing team, without a single shot attempt on goal by the team that was originally attacking.
But this reluctance to shoot the puck isn’t entirely justified because sometimes the puck doesn’t get blocked. Sometimes, the puck ricochets off the players in front of the net, and scores.
That led to the expression: “just get the puck on net.”
Just shoot the puck near the net, and sometimes good things will happen. It might bounce off some players into the net. Maybe the goaltender won’t be ready. Maybe the puck will miss the net and bounce off the wall behind the net right to a teammate who can score the goal. You never know.
As a more popular saying goes, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.
“Just get the puck on net” doesn’t just apply to hockey.
Several years ago, I helped a company with a project to code scripts to auto-generate reports. It was fun, the workload was just right, and it was just challenging enough to keep my interest. Best of all, I had the most hands-off manager I ever had. Imagine a micromanager; he was the exact opposite. So, I enjoyed every moment of working on that project.
About one year into the project, my manager reached out to me. He needed some help with another project that was spinning up. And he wanted to know whether I would be interested in helping out.
I had every reason to say “no.”
I was on a perfect project (for me). Life was good. And there was a part of me that was concerned the new project would leave me worse off.
Maybe the project would be more than I can take on. Then, I’ll be let go for my incompetence and I won’t be on either project.
Maybe I’d be more micromanaged. Autonomy means a lot to me. In fact, I’d like to start my own business someday. The possibility that I could lose an ounce of that weighed heavily.
Maybe I’ll have to work with people I don’t get along with. I learned from prior experiences that working with people who bring you down is draining, no matter how passionate you are about your job.
I didn’t want to lose all the good stuff I had. And the costs of losing what I had outweighed the benefits I could see in the opportunity. I could see a tiny corner of the goal, but it was mostly obstructed. That’s a big part of the problem. When you can’t see the goal clearly, it’s tempting to assume you don’t have a shot on goal. That it’s not worth taking a shot. So, part of me was ready to pass the puck.
But there was another part of me that was concerned about how long my current project would last. Change is constant. If I didn’t take the new opportunity, and if my current project were canceled, then I might be worse off, too.
So, I said “yes.” I’d help with the new project.
I have zero regrets.
Joining that project team was one of the most positive life-changing experiences I’ve had so far. I still had all the benefits of my previous project, plus more. There were new teammates I could connect with on a personal level. With their support, I was propelled into a leadership position. And I met a mentor who instilled in me an entrepreneurial spirit that fuels me to this day.
I couldn’t have predicted any of that.
Sometimes, you just have to get your shot on net, and good things will happen.
Thanks for reading this dive Below the Surface of getting the shot on net. Reply to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions or comments. Let me know if you took a shot into the unknown to attain better outcomes. I’d love to hear from you.
Thank you for reading. Have a wonderful day. And I’ll see you in the next one.