How To Accomplish More By Doing Less

in Cultivating Clarity
Aidan in Detroit


Have you ever wondered if it is possible to do less, and yet accomplish more in your life?

I’m writing these words this morning as I sit here here watching my son, Aidan, prepare for his up-and-coming AAA hockey tryouts. And since we’re here at the arena together, I thought we could talk about the Four Pillars to a goalie’s success.

“But I thought this article was going to be about doing less and accomplishing more,” you may be wondering to yourself.

And you’re right, that is exactly what we will be talking about together.

However, I thought we would explore this question through the eyes of a goalie and show how the Four Pillars equip them to do less, so that they can actually accomplish more. And just maybe, through this process, we will learn a thing or two from the person behind the mask.

If you follow hockey, you know that being a goalie can come with its fair share of pressure. After all, how many times have your heard someone say: “Wow, that goalie really let in a soft goal. He or she should have made that save.” or, “Our team lost because our goalie let in a weak goal.” or, “If a team is going to be successful in the playoffs, they must have great goaltending.”

When dealing with the pressures of life, how do you as an individual rise above the tide of expectations placed on you, both internally and externally? How do you excel when so much focus is placed on whether you are good enough, or not? (Not just talking about goalies here!)

In the book, The Power Within, Swedish Hockey League goalie coach, Erik Granqvist, shares with Justin Goldman the four pillars he uses to help his goalies excel.

The Four Pillars to a goalie’s success are: Control, Analysis, Acceptance, and Action.

Control: After a goal was just scored, Erik encourages his goalie to take immediate action and ask: “What just happened?” Learning what is, and what is not within their control is essential if they desire to do less and accomplish more.

Analysis: Asking, “What just happened” leads the goalie into doing a mental replay of the game. This equips the goalie to take on an observational role as they replay the events that led to the goal. The important question here is: “What could I have done differently to prevent the goal?” Even if it was a great shot or an unfortunate deflection, there is always something to learn.

Acceptance: This is a learned state of being that is critical to a goalie’s success. It is learning to accept the result within the given circumstance – a goal was just scored. And to fully accept your given circumstance means not to judge or blame yourself or anyone else.

Action: Removing blame and judgement empowers the goalie to learn from what just happened and take ownership of their game. This enables them to take immediate action to apply what they just learned; and this is essential since the game is still being played.

Erick Granqvist places the emphasis on acceptance being the critical part of a goalie’s success. He states that being clear about what to do the next time something like this happens is rooted in a goalie’s acceptance to the given circumstance.

And so it is with you and me.

Just like a goalie can consume so much of their energy projecting blame and judgement once a goal is scored, so we can do the same in our lives.

Let’s play with this idea for a moment with a couple different scenarios:

Recall a time this past week when you were in the middle of a “heated disagreement” with your spouse, partner, child, colleague, teammate, referee, or anyone you can think of. Now ask yourself: “What was I focusing my attention on in that moment?” And then ask: “How much energy and thought did I give to this?”

Now recall a time in your life when you were struggling with an addiction; or a business deal that went south, and as a result, you lost a significant sum of money; or a relationship that suddenly ended. Again, ask yourself: “What was I focusing my attention on in that given circumstance?” And then ask: “What was I telling myself and how much energy was I giving to this story?”

If we are honest with ourselves we will discover that we consume so much energy practicing self judgement and projecting blame. If we only have 100 units of energy to work with every day, what would be the best use of this energy?

In other words, how might we best use our 100 units of energy to cultivate a compelling story – filled with adventure, love, beauty, excellence, and purpose rather than blame, judgement, guilt, shame, anxiety and angst.

The key to doing less and accomplishing more is directly connected to how we make use of the 100 units of energy we are blessed with every single day.

A goalie will always play at their best when they are relaxed and calm because this state of mind will lead to clarity of thought and action. And in order to be in this state of mind and body they need to consistently practice and condition the Four Pillars that Erik Granqvist teaches his goalies.

You and I would be wise to do likewise.

Today’s Unitas Project:

  • This week when you feel the natural urge to walk the road of self judgment and project blame around a challenging situation; stop and put-into-play the Four Pillars to a goalie’s success.
  • Condition this new response and you might just discover a greater sense of clarity around what is the next right thing for you to do.

Until next time…

Be You. Be Unitas.


Photo taken in Detroit, MI