Last week, the 2011 World Junior Hockey Tournament was held in Buffalo, New York. Though it is not a battle for the Stanley Cup or the Olympic Gold Medal, this is still a championship which means a lot to the kids playing in it and some of the nations involved. One such country is Canada. The birthplace of the sport, hockey is much more than a past time in Canada. It is part of the culture and a way of life. It is something the citizens put all of their pride and joy into, so they can prove to the World they are the best. Nothing matters more to Canadians, even at the Junior level.
This year, Canada made a remarkable run after losing in a shootout to Sweden to make it to the Gold Medal game to play a long time rival, Russia. These are the two best countries in the world at hockey, so it was only fitting they would battle it out for hockey dominance. Things seemed to be going well for Canada: they were up 3-0 with one period to go. They were riding high and victory seemed all but assured. Then things got interesting.
The Russians managed to stage a comeback of the ages and ended up scoring 5 unanswered in the final period to win take the Gold from the Canadians. It was devastating, not only to the young kids playing, but to an entire nation.
So what can we learn from Canada’s epic defeat? Never give up. Give all credit to Russia for giving their best and earning the victory, but if Canada had stayed the course instead of getting ahead of themselves, it may have been a happier setting in the Great White North. Even when it seems like you have it in the bag, that there is no shot you can lose, the momentum can swing the other way in an instant and you can be on the losing end. This is not just a lesson learned in sports, but in all aspects of life and business. It is not over until it is over, no matter what the deficit, no matter how confident you are. There is always someone behind you ready to take the gold the minute you begin to slack.
This may have been the hardest thing I have ever written. As a proud Canadian, it pains me to talk about our most epic failure. But like every good student, every good salesman, every good athlete, there is always a lesson to be seen from defeat. I only hope next time, the team has learned like I have. You may be able to see the end, and it may look good, but you never truly know the outcome until after it happens. Never stop working, never slack off, never quit.