50-plus? Career Wisdom from a Hockey Superstar

The business world is changing quickly enough to make your head spin, and we’re all getting older.  Age-wise, in many cases it seems like 50 (or in some industry sectors, 40) is “the new 65”.

Are you worried about losing your competitive edge?  Do you fear becoming a lumbering Baby Boomer Brontosaurus hemmed in by a nimble herd of Millennial T-Rexes?  What can you do to maintain your value… to stay relevant, sought-after, and in the game?


For the solution, look to the world’s finest hockey player.  Wayne Gretzky‘s top skills were mental, not physical.  With unparalleled hockey intelligence, he became The Greatest by following three simple rules:

  1. studying the best players: Gretzky thoroughly analyzed the skills of earlier greats such as Gordie Howe, Bobby Hull, and Guy Lafleur.
  2. focusing on the team: Gretzky knew that winning was rarely a solo endeavour.
  3. predicting the future:  Rather than skate after the puck, Gretzky always headed towards where he thought it was going (and invariably, he was right).

What Gretzky did for his hockey career, you can do for your own career.

In the short term: find and follow the established (and rising) thought leaders in your field. Just like Gretzky, you can learn from the experts (most of whom will have websites, blogs, Facebook pages, LinkedIn profiles, Twitter feeds, etc.) who have broken the trail before you.

Ask yourself, who might some of my thought leaders be, and where can I find them?

In the medium term:  become highly visible, competent, and connected with your tribe.  The whole team knew Gretzky’s skills and position on the ice.  Approach your career in the same way.  Join communities where you can rapidly learn, contribute, enhance your credibility, and ultimately become a thought leader.  And as surely as his teammates passed Gretzky the puck, people will start coming to you for your skills.

Ask yourself, what could I do, starting today, to become more visible, competent, and connected with my tribe?

In the long term:  study the “game changers” for your career, and prepare yourself for what may happen next.  Gretzky didn’t just know where the puck was going; his extraordinary peripheral vision told him where everyone was skating.  Just as he always knew what was changing on the ice, you need to know what’s changing for your career.  Technology, the most obvious example, creates many new job roles and renders others obsolete. But demographic, political, financial, cultural, economic, and other factors can also affect your future prospects.

Ask yourself, what might some of my own game changers be, and where can I go to learn more about them?

Nowadays, the career landscape seems to be shifting as quickly as the action in an NHL game. But by applying these short, medium, and long-term strategies you’ll ensure that no matter what the future brings, you’ll have that puck right on your stick whenever a big break comes your way!

Note: This post is part of Job Action Day celebrations (whose 2015 focus is on helping “50-plus” workers).  Click here for similar wisdom from a few other career management experts.

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Paul Raworth Bennett (Founder and Principal of NOVA Career Strategies) is a résumé expert, LinkedIn consultant, and Reach-certified Personal Branding Strategist (who was lucky enough to have Susan Chritton and Kirsten Vernon as his instructors).  If you want to star in your own career, Paul would be happy to connect with you via the NOVA Career Strategies website, his Twitter account, or through his LinkedIn page.


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