Last week, I was face-to-face with Philadelphia Flyers sensation Daniel Briere. While hockey fans find it hard to believe that since Briere came into his own during the 2006 playoffs, he did struggle earlier in his career. With Phoenix, he was on the bubble — up and down from the minors like a yo yo, suffered from injuries, and then there was the 2004-05 lockout season. Now he is perhaps one of the top five players in the NHL.

Knowing his career has not been easy to get to this point, Briere admits he was going through the motions.

“Early on in my career, I was just going through the steps – it’s the American league, it’s the NHL – I was just following the steps – this is the way it’s supposed to be. And then when it’s taken away from you for a few years, you realize how much fun it was and how hard it is to get there but even harder to stick there and stay and keep getting better. So when I had a second, third, fourth chance and things really started to turn and get even better, now I just appreciate every single moment that I’m in the NHL, every single game. Because I know it can get away really quick.”

So what made the difference? Turning from mediocre to great doesn’t happen overnight and without some concentrated effort.

“It’s not just one thing; it’s a combination of things. Obviously, maturing was a big part of it, finding the love of the game again, my training regiment, mentally getting stronger. It was a bunch of little things over the course of a year, year and a half that helped me get out of the rut that I was in.”

When Briere says he found the love of the game again, that meant he was not having any fun. This is where the real message comes in — not just for Briere, but for all of us.

“When I realized that I wasn’t having fun, I was scared to go to the rink when I was in the NHL, pouting when I was in the American league, and blaming everything around me. When I kind of realized that and at the same time, I wasn’t enjoying the game. Slowly, I started working on that, stopped blaming everybody else, stopped pouting, and then the love of the game came in, and that’s when I started having fun again. Early on, I would get sent down and blame the coach, blame the players you’re playing with, blame the ice. You’re trying to point around you, except look in the mirror. That’s what I did, just like a lot of young players do. I was lucky that it wasn’t too late. I still had a chance to come back and get out of this. I was fortunate that I found it quick enough.”

Regardless of who we are, what tasks we toil, and what industry we work, we can all take a page from Daniel Briere’s playbook.

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