Abraham Lincoln once said, “I will prepare, and some day my chance
will come.” When his chance came, he was ready.
During his seminary years, one priest-in-training owned a favorite
T-shirt. Across the front was emblazoned: “Expectant Father.” His
chance came and he, too, was ready.
When your chance comes, will you be ready?
I know that sports stories don’t speak to everyone, but if you’ll
indulge me, I think Wayne Gretzky has something powerful to teach us
about preparation. Former ice hockey superstar Gretzky knew the
value of being ready. He broke almost every record imaginable and is
generally thought to be the greatest hockey player of all time.
“The Great One,” as he is often called, is not particularly big – he
stands at 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighed about 170 pounds during
his career. He never skated particularly fast, his shot was not
high-powered and he often placed dead last on regular strength tests
administered to his team. So what made him so great?
Gretzky attributes his stardom to practice and preparation. He
practiced stick handling in the off-season with a tennis ball, as
the ball was harder to control than a puck. In practice he
innovated. He practiced bouncing the puck off the sideboards to his
teammates until that technique became a regular part of his play.
Then he worked on bouncing the puck off the net. He became so
accomplished at these maneuvers that he sometimes said, “People say
there’s only six men on the ice, but really, if you use the angle of
deflection of the board, there’s seven. If you count the net, that’s
eight. From the opening face-off, I always figure we have ’em
The Great One was so great because, when his chance came to make an
impact, he was ready. And because he was ready, chances came again
I’ve learned this: it doesn’t matter what awaits me just across the
sea if I haven’t built a boat