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Déjà Leonard is a copywriter and freelance journalist based in Calgary.

With the Stanley Cup Playoffs’ Battle of Alberta between Edmonton Oilers and the Calgary Flames now behind us, we spoke to a former NHL player who has been a part of both teams about losing and how he moves forward from it.

Krys Kolanos was the 19th pick in the 2000 NHL draft, selected by the Phoenix Coyotes (now the Arizona Coyotes). During his career, he won a gold medal with team Canada at the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championships, among other accolades.

Mr. Kolanos was born in Calgary and grew up cheering for the Flames, which lost to the Oilers. He said there are positive aspects to losses – advice that can apply well beyond hockey.

Keep it neutral

Throughout his time playing hockey, Mr. Kolanos faced many ups and downs – from participating in the inaugural NHL YoungStars Game to injuries that changed the trajectory of his career.

“The way I like to look at things now is you’ve got to see them from both sides – the good, the bad, the positive, the negative – and you have to kind of keep it neutral. Because then when you can do that, you can move forward and stay present,” he said.

Mr. Kolanos says that he may have never had a comeback in his 30s and got the chance to play for the Flames had it not been for his injuries.

“To make a comeback like that … I always have the mindset that anything is possible.”

The same mindset can be applied to your career. Sometimes devastating losses can lead to moments of dread, but life moves forward.

Reshape the way you see losses

“With anything, it’s either providing you clarity and enhancing your desire, or it’s satisfying your desire,” Mr. Kolanos said. When it comes to hockey, losses teach teams what they need to work on and ultimately boosts their desire to win.

He encourages people to see losses and challenges as opportunities for growth and appreciate them as part of the journey.

“Turn [challenges] into something on the way, not in the way.”

Acknowledge your achievements

Like a sports loss, when you experience a loss in your career, such as getting laid off or missing out on a promotion, it can be easy to focus on everything that went wrong instead of your accomplishments along the way.

“Just the fact that they were a top-eight team and got to the second round [of the playoffs] – that’s incredible in itself,” Mr. Kolanos said of the Flames this season.

The Battle of Alberta also brought energy to the Calgary and Edmonton communities, which is an impact that can’t be understated.

Fans had the opportunity to connect with their peers, and local businesses were excited about the boom in customers after a tough few years for many pubs and restaurants.

“I was basically cheering for Alberta, in the sense that there were so many good things for the economy.”

The same concept applies to your career. Even through loss, consider the positive impact you’ve made through your work that may be bigger than yourself.

Mr. Kolanos, who volunteers with the Flames and Oilers alumni groups and still hits the ice with the former a few times a month, said he is grateful for the habits hockey has instilled in him.

“I still love the game,” he said. “I live and breathe the game and it’s just a part of me.”

What I’m reading around the web

  • The skilled trades will be key to helping Canada bounce back economically. Read how the government of Canada is helping small and medium-sized employers create more than 25,000 apprenticeship positions across the country.
  • Listening is important, but not everyone does it well. Understanding your listening style can help you connect with others, deepen relationships and collaborate more effectively, according to an article in Harvard Business Review.
  • You would think there is no need to incentivize paid time off, but employers are taking this new approach to ward off the lowered morale, decreased productivity and mass resignations caused by burnout.

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