Work ethic is one of those buzzwords that we hear about all the time. Having the ability to work hard is vital to every hockey player. The tricky part is that “the ability to work hard” is usually how far our minds go when thinking about work ethic. Most players don’t dig much deeper than that surface level answer.
What we should be thinking about is what do I need to do to help my players (or yourself, or your son or daughter) to develop their work ethic?
Because here’s the reality: the greater the work ethic, the more success you’ll have.
What’s one thing that the best hockey players today all have in common? Think about guys like Crosby, McDavid, Toews, MacKinnon, Subban, Weber, Price… really anyone that plays in the NHL. The simple answer is their work ethic is off the charts. The truth is, anyone playing at that level has an unbelievable work ethic because if they didn’t, they wouldn’t be there.
While I’m not telling you to compare yourself, or your team, to NHL players, I think everyone wants to learn from the best. And, I think we can learn bits and pieces from people that have gotten to the top.
To back this point up even further, the NHL started to take player polls a few years ago. Now, these were questionnaires that were given out to all NHL players with the same questions just to get their perspective on the game from the players playing it.
The one question that stands out to me the most is, “What quality do you appreciate most in a teammate?” The leading answer by a large margin was work ethic.
Work ethic is truly one of those things that’s easy to talk about, but difficult to master. But, for those who can master and develop it into a strength, the ceiling to that individual's potential is nearly endless.
How Do We Develop And Build Our Work Ethic
While there are some people that would argue that your work ethic is something that you’re born with, I would completely disagree.
Like most things, work ethic can be built, trained, and constantly improved upon.
The first key component in building your work ethic is understanding your WHY. Like most things in hockey, and life, if you don’t know why you’re doing them, or if you have no direction of where you hope to be going, you’re going to eventually lose motivation and direction and end up frustrated, lost, and uninterested. This is what we want to avoid at all costs.
There’s a strategic reason why in this blog I have talked about the importance of understanding and defining your WHY. It’s because nearly everything you do as a hockey player can be traced back to that one foundational piece.
The next big area of importance comes through goal setting. This is important because this is the next component to building and developing your work ethic. You need to know where you’re trying to go. In other words, you need direction.
So to summarize, there are two major components that we need to have in order to build, develop, and train our work ethic. We need to understand why we are doing the things we’re doing, and we need to have a goal of where we want to go.
The Six Components To Building Your Work Ethic
Everyone’s definition of work ethic is going to be slightly different and and that’s ok. The reality is that what one person defines work ethic as, the person sitting next to them might have a completely different opinion.
So when talking about something so subjective, how do we develop, train, and improve our work ethic?
I think there are six key components that can lead to an improved work ethic. And, if you’ve started to notice a pattern in all the lessons, they’re all things that you as the individual can control.
Honor Your Commitments - If you commit to doing something, then commit to seeing it out. Don’t quit and make an excuse for why everything didn’t work out the way you hoped. If you commit to working out three mornings a week at 6 am, make sure that you show up. It’s easy to say you’re too tired, or you don’t feel like going, but by honoring your commitment and showing up you’re building your work ethic.
Be On Time - When thinking about work ethic and commitment, do you think you’re building your work ethic into a strength if you’re not on time? There isn’t a person out there who could argue that. Just like point number one, commit to showing up and make sure you’re on time. Showing up on time immediately gives you a boost of confidence because it’s a form of success. It’s a little victory that helps put you on the path to success.
Be Prepared - It seems like such a common sense idea, which it is, but it’s so vital to be reminded about its importance. If you want to be at your best and be ready to work, you need to be prepared. If you’re scrambling before a game because you can’t find your gloves, or you forgot your jerseys at home, are you prepared? Of course not, and that it turn leads to you focusing your time and energy on everything except the game you’re about to play. Set yourself up for success by making sure you’re prepared.
Have A Clear Vision Of What You Want / What You’re Working For - Like we talked about earlier in this guide, you need to know WHY you’re working and have a vision for what you’re working for. The more focused you are the easier it is to put your best effort forward. When you know what you’re working for it becomes easier to stay motivated and push yourself to the next level.
Have A Good / Positive Attitude - Attitude is everything. There are going to be days when you don’t want to work. There are going to be days when you face obstacles. And, there are going to be days when nothing seems to be going your way. Your attitude is what will get you through. If you can find the positive in the situation, keep things in perspective, and keep going after the things you want then you’ll be successful. This famous quote is so true… “Life (and hockey) is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you react to it.”
Never Quit / Never Give In - The hardest workers always believe there’s a way. Whether they’re down or losing, they know that hard work and sticking to the process is the only way to overcome obstacles. Know that nothing ever worth having is going to come easy, and only those that never quit, or give in, are the ones who will be left standing at the end. If you believe in it, keep working for it.
I’m a big believer that if you’re really serious about developing your work ethic, and being that player that everyone always comments is the hardest worker on the ice, then commit to these six items.
Over time, if you keep these six items in mind and follow them, they will become ingrained in who you are as a person and who you will be as a player. They will turn into your own definition, and help you define your work ethic. They’re not easy, but like I said above, nothing worth having is ever easy. And just remember, nothing listed above has anything to do with talent, physical capabilities, or who you know. They’re all items that you can control and use to define your own personal path.
Focus on you work ethic. Realize that it’s something you can work on and build. Whenever things get tough, your work ethic is what will carry you through.