20 Feb 2018

The Hockey Player Who Taught Me and the Coach a Few Lessons

To be truly effective, a philosophy should be a simple concept, applicable to many situations and It must be able to be retaught by others.

A while back I received a phone call. The high-pitched voice at the other end sounded like a young boy. Now I’ve got a few male friends who like to pull practical jokes on me, so I was bemused. But I wasn’t 100% certain this call was a prank so I stayed professional and asked how I could help. Here’s how the conversation went.

“Mr. Howlett?”


“I’m going to tell you how the 3 gears apply to hockey.”


“1st gear is when you’re on the ice and you only care about yourself. You act like a puck-hog. You don’t pass to anyone else.”

“Yes, that makes sense.”

“2nd gear is when you score but you need rewards. Like everyone on your team has to high-five you or thank you for scoring.”

“Yup, that sounds correct too.”

“But 3rd gear is when you are a team-player. Sometimes you score and sometime you pass if someone else is open. But you do it for the team, not for the rewards.”

“Yes, that sounds like 3rd gear.”

“OK, here’s my dad.”

I heard the phone being passed and then a buddy came on the line. He’s a cop who has followed RHB for years. I asked him if he’d taught his son these applications.

Andy told me, “nope. I just taught him the 3 RHB gears. He’s the one who applied them to hockey. Not only that, but he then taught them to teammates as well as his coach. The coach was so impressed that he had the boys saying ‘3rd gear’ before they step on the ice. His coach told me “we still have a few boys acting in 1st gear but we are aiming for a 3rd gear culture on the bench.’”

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