Thoughtful Sports Figure?

We usually give examples of poor communication in the blog, but I recently heard a quote from an unusually candid and thoughtful sports figure. Since sports personalities usually answer in nothing but cliches, I thought the exception  was worth noting.


When Pittsburgh Penguin (National Hockey League) coach Dan Bylsma was asked if his team had any doubts before a possible elimination game in the Stanley Cup Finals, he did not respond with the type of evasive and dismissive answer that we’ve grown to expect. He did not immediately say, “No. We always think we’ll win” or “No, our team always gives 110%” or even the tired, hubris-filled “If anyone on this team thinks we’re not going to win, he should just leave now” response.

Instead, he said (paraphrased since I wasn’t taking notes!), “I’m not the type of person who dismisses thoughts that come into my head. Of course, we have some doubt.” He then went on to explain that the team had a choice, either to focus on the doubt or prepare to win the game.

Positive Language

The quote was simple and, in my opinion, representative of a positive way to approach language and life–another example of words to live by. Many of us are so busy denying doubt or fear that we don’t ever get to the part about focusing on what we want.

When asked if we’re ready for a new challenge, we defensively say “I’m always confident” or “I know I won’t have any problem” or “I don’t worry about things like that” each time, always  suppressing and denying an honest emotion of doubt. The doubt will remain in your head until it’s addressed, at which time it will disappear, having done its job.

If you feel a doubt about an upcoming event (even a small amount of doubt), admit that it’s there. It’s a natural part of being  human. Then,  release the doubt and focus on what you want. You will then  approach the upcoming event with a complete focus on the task at hand instead of having your focus split between the task at hand and the doubt that has never been addressed.

By the way, Bylsma’s team, which had been one that lost as many games as it won prior to his taking over, has won 33 out of 43 games, including a regular season record of 18-3,  and is one win away from a championship.


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4 Responses to Thoughtful Sports Figure?

  1. Wordacious says:

    What a wonderful and inspirational post. The quote is an outstanding example of approaching things in a realistic and positive manner.

    Go Red Wings.

    • languageandgrammar says:

      Thanks for the kind words about the blog, but I want to correct one important point in your comment–it should be Go Penguins, not go Red Wings!

      As an aside, although I don’t know as much about the Wings as the Pens, I have been very impressed with coach Mike Babcock as well. He seems to be a positive, well-spoken coach as well.

      • Zakaria says:

        I was wondering if you could talk about ‘the passive voice’ in broad strokes(in one of your beautifully written blogs),as I almost always find myself at sea in trying to plumb the depths of it,the passive voice,that is,and thank you very much.Keep them coming your blogs.

      • languageandgrammar says:

        Sherry and I haven’t spent a great deal of time talking about writing topics, but we plan to do some in the future——and we’ll add the passive voice as one of the topics.


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