How Fishing with Mike Keenan Taught Me About Sustaining Success

I’m fishing at the Mark Messier Catch Classic in ’97. I’m rooming with Mike Keenan. He had just taken on a job coaching the Vancouver Canucks. I was excited to meet him because of everything that happened with the Rangers in ’94.

We were fishing for a $100,000 prize. I said to him, “Mike, I just have two things I want to tell you. I was in Vegas a week ago and it’s 200-1 odds that your team wins the Stanley Cup AND the odds came out after you were announced as coach.”

I was busting his chops a little bit. We got to talking and by the end of the night Mike said to me he was going to sleep in.

“Mike, thank you because I’ll be the first off the dock tomorrow and I am going to take all the money for myself.”

Next morning, about 5:30am, I hear the door slam, ‘Hey Brandon, I changed my mind, I’ll be taking all the money!”

The moral of the story: Never trust someone who is highly motivated to go and get something done. Winners win and they compete. I said one little thing to Mike the night before and that turned a switch on.

After the weekend I asked, “What’s the most important thing in managing and motivating players?”

He said, contrary to what most people think, “It’s not having players hit the goals, it’s having players get motivated again and reset their goals once they have already achieved something.”

The great ones say, “I like this feeling, how do I keep this thing going?”

Michael Jordan, Derek Jeter, Cal Ripken. The great ones immediately reset and move on to the next goal because the real fun is the process of reaching the goal. Anyone that has had sustained success will tell you that.

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