Wayne Gretzky is the biggest failure in the history of Ice Hockey yet his picture still hangs on my wall. If you know who Wayne Gretzky is you can guess why I have his photo on my wall, but you may be confused or outraged that I am calling him a failure.
The consensus is that Wayne Gretzky is the greatest ice hockey player of all time, the epitome of high performing athleticism. But here’s the thing, I’m not a hockey fan – I can count on my two hands the number of Ice Hockey games I’ve watched in my life. No, Wayne Gretzky reminds me that high performance is hindered by the twin perils of perfectionism and procrastination.
If you go to the List of NHL (National Hockey League) statistical leaders you can see that Gretzky tops the list of all time goals scored with 2857 points in his career – significantly higher than runner-up Mark Messier who scored 1887.
In fact, on the 29 different metrics measured, Gretzky ranks at or near the top on all of measures of hockey greatness except Penalty Minutes, Overtime Goals and Scoring Percentage. It is his absence in these rankings that puts him on my wall.
When you grasp the astounding number of points scored by Wayne Gretzky you automatically assume that he must be an amazingly skilled shooter, but in fact, he doesn’t even rank. He simply took so many shots on goal that even with a low percentage actually making it, he still has nearly a thousand more points than the next best scorer. This means that the volume of total shots he took in his lifetime is so much vastly higher than anyone else that it is hard to imagine.
If the NHL ranked missed shots he would be multiple times higher than the next runner up. In one sense all these missed attempts make him the biggest failure the sport has ever seen – yet nobody can dispute his high-performance credentials.
Because of all the failed goal attempts, he is my role model for not waiting for things to be perfect. High performance is about getting things done. Take any and every shot whenever you can. Don’t miss a good chance while you wait for the sure thing. Don’t be afraid to fail, do it as fast as you can so you can take the next shot sooner.
Oh and stay out of the penalty box and do your work during regular time, not overtime.