I played professional hockey back in the days when NHL teams flew from city to city on… commercial airlines. Imagine this with me for a minute. Do you remember those late 70’s airplanes? Our NHL team, comprised of supposedly professional athletes, were seated 2 rows ahead of the “smoking section.” And on more than one occasion, when flying with the Washington Capitals from Washington DC to LAX, all 30 of us, players, coaches and trainers, were actually seated in smoking!
The other challenge for us flying on commercial airlines was determining what to do with the “time” that we had to kill between flights. Many of our flights connected out of Chicago’s O’hare Airport, and during the winter, weather would often delay flights. So what to do with all of that time? Late 70’s NHL players could be broken into two groups of time-killers: The readers and the card players. I love to read books, so you can see what I was up to, but after awhile both groups needed a change, and my teammate Gordie Lane gave it to us.
Gordie taught us a great airport game. It seemed like Gordie always brought 20 lbs test fishing line on road trips, not to fish, but to tie a 5-dollar bill to one end of the line. About 8 or 10 of the players would stand with their backs to the busy walkways and Gordie would get down on one knee behind us so that the people walking to their gates couldn’t see him. (illustrate this) Gordie would then throw the five-dollar bill out into the busy walkway and wait for his first victim.
Everybody could use an extra five bucks (and remember that $5 was worth much less in the 70’s), so I was never surprised to see how many people reached down to take their bounty. The problem was that they never, ever pocketed Gordie’s fiver. As soon as the victim reached for the money, Gordie would pull the fishing line slightly and the money would move.
We were always amazed during this game to see how persistent people were. Many of the money-seekers thought that the wind must have moved the money, so they would chase after it again. Of course just as they approached the fiver with their hand, Gordie would yank the line again. By this time our whole team was howling, and the victim, upset at being tricked, had one of two responses: he or she either laughed with us or scolded Gordie for being the scoundrel he was.
My buddy Gordie played this “fishing” trick in every major airport where our team spent too much time, and Gordie was ruthless. I experienced this one Christmas when travelling just before the holidays. Gordie set his trap and a Nun saw the fiver. She knew just what she was going to do with the money… place it in the Christmas Donation Box that the Catholic Church Fund had set up in the airport. The Nun reached for the money and Gordie pulled the line. Unsure of why the money moved, she chased it and reached again. Gordie pulled his line again. At this point she saw us, and him, and gave us all a good talking to. That may have been the only time that I felt badly on our airport “fishing trips.”
Over these many seasons of airport fishing trips (can you believe that a bunch of so-called grown men would do this?), only one person ever walked away with the five-dollar bill. During one spring break we went fishing and a slew of younger victims pursued the fiver. And one of them, probably about 8 years old, was brilliant. All of the other victims I observed over the years bent from the waist, reached down and tried to grab the money, but not this young guy. He chased the five bucks and then stepped on the money!
Of course Gordie’s reaction was to pull the fishing line and you guessed it – the line pulled free of the fiver and the kid walked off with some spending money. Amazing! It took an un-programmed kid to beat the game and swim free with the money.
So, here is an idea for 2016. That successful boy did something different than everyone else and WON!
What one mindset is interfering with you creating your best season ever in 2016?
What will you “stomp on,” really promise yourself that you will do differently?