Lessons from Hockey History

This past week has been a very cool one for hockey fans.  We were able to take a trip down memory lane ad remember the infamous game in Lake Placid, New York where the United States Olympic hockey team beat the Soviet Union on their way to take the first-place gold.  Do you recall how I wrote about how my husband loves all things dirt bike racing in my previous blog, Endless January to Frugal February? Even though I still am jealous of my friends who have cut cable, I have to admit that I do like it when there is anything hockey related on television.  Sure, I could stream it, but nothing beats watching the up close, in your face, fast speed of passing a puck around an ice rink – nothing that is except watching it happen live.  I am a lover of all things hockey!  It doesn’t matter if a game features teams I don’t follow, I will put the game on no matter who is playing.  And as a loyal Buffalo Sabres fan, I am hoping for a “miracle on ice” that one day soon (it has been quite the drought!) we will again be winners just as the 1980 Olympic team was crowned victorious forty years ago.


The remarkable part of the real Miracle on Ice is that the world did not believe the Americans could win the gold medal because nobody thought they could get past the Soviets.  We were huge underdogs as our team was mostly a group of young guys in college that were amateurs compared to the other teams they face – teams that were considered goliaths in their own right.  Russia has historically produced many talented ice hockey players and this holds true today.  If you look at the current NHL rosters much of the top talent learned the sport across the ocean and in other parts of the world.  Herb Brooks, the now infamous coach of the USA team, built his team very carefully.  He assembled a team that was not only good at the sport, but one that complimented each other in personality, playing styles, and skill sets.  This allowed incredible synergy where this group of young men banded together for a common purpose – to do the unthinkable and win on home turf.


So, you are probably thinking why in the world am I writing about hockey and what the heck does this have to do with financial planning?  Hockey has nothing to do with financial planning, but there are parallels that can be drawn from the Miracle on Ice and apply them to how we can all create structure to accomplish in our lives what might feel impossible right now.  Consider the following:  if you assemble the right team and create a plan that you are comfortable with, you can set goals that may not feel attainable now, but you can work toward them.


Assemble the right team.  Just as Herb Brooks did with the team he coached, you have to have the right people in the right seats to help you with your financial plan.  Hiring the right financial advisor will elevate you from where you are today to where you want to be because they will work with you to bring in the right players.  You need to consider many facets in a financial plan and some of them may need legal expertise or tax advice.  You may need guidance on how to structure your assets so that you are not taking unnecessary risks given how you feel about your wealth and what stage of life you are at.  Think of your advisor as your coach and you are part of the team with the other players who have different skill sets working toward a common purpose, which is to help you reach your goals.


Play Your Game.  I have said this many times over my career and will say it here again.  Investors are not cookie cutters.  There is no right way or wrong way, per se, to invest your assets.  The prudent way is to work with your advisor to find a strategy that you are comfortable with.  When Brooks was coaching his team, he famously repeated a mantra in the closing minutes of the final game, which was to “play your game.”  Brooks knew that if his players had confidence in their abilities, in their strategy and in each other, they could achieve great things together.  This is not different for a well-executed financial plan.  If you have confidence in your team and you are comfortable with a plan that is uniquely designed for you with your goals in mind, most things will be achievable.


Think Big and Dream Bigger.  To work toward goals you have to have a plan, that goes without saying.  But goals come in all shapes and sizes and we need to look at them in connection with each other and sometimes that disallows us to think bigger or further out in the future because we are acutely focused on the here and now.  I look at my own situation with this.  Next year my two oldest children with both be in high school.  Seriously, how did that happen?!  In a very short amount of time I will be going on college visits and writing checks for tuition expenses.  I want to help my children with their education and not burden them with copious amounts of debt, so thinking of that in the near term makes the lofty goals feel so out of reach right now.  I have always dreamed of having a second home somewhere on a body of water.  Will I be able to reach this goal sooner rather than later?  I hope so, but probably not before my three children get through their schooling.  But I need to keep the eye on the prize and include it in my plan so that I still am thinking about and working toward it.  Have the big dream and let your team motivate and inspire you to continue to think big and move forward.


Forty years ago the world literally watched a dream come true not only for a team, but also a nation.  Like in sports, winning at life is the compilation of many parts working together to achieve successful outcomes.  So, as you are planning for the now be sure to be thinking big and dreaming bigger.  Find the right team that works for you.  Align yourself with people who understand your goals and desires, and who will help you execute in a manner that makes you comfortable.  Take the small wins along the way as you can, and don’t stop working toward the grand prize no matter what that looks like for you.  One day I will be in that vacation home on the water, and I’ll still be cheering on Buffalo!



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