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What Hockey Taught Me About Advocacy

Feb 12, 2020

Growing up as a rabid fan of the Detroit Red Wings in the 90’s and early 2000’s, some of my favorite players were members of the so-called “Grind Line”. Kirk Maltby, Chris Draper, and Joe Kocur (later replaced by Darrin McCarty) were the blue-collar players on the Red Wings. They weren’t the highest paid, they were not the superstars, but they were the guys you could depend on day in and day out to work hard every shift, every game and all season long. Due to their efforts, and the fact they put the team ahead of everyone else, they won the hearts of Red Wings fans everywhere.

Those traits that endeared the Grind Line to Wings fans, are some of the same traits that are needed at the State Capitol to be effective in your advocacy. With 148 legislators, hundreds of staff, and thousands of state department employees, you have to have the same effort that the Grind Line showed.

Here are 3 key principles of effective advocacy:

  1. Have a plan and work the plan

As a washed-up hockey player, I remember coaches teaching the dump and chase, where you would put the puck in deep into the opponent’s zone and go get it. Everyone on the ice knew what was coming, that was the plan and all 5 guys executed the plan. The same goes for effective advocacy – you have to spend the time putting together a plan and execute it on a day-to-day basis.

  1. Be consistent, even when you don’t feel like progress is being made

Advocacy is about consistency. The opponents playing the Grind Line knew that from the first shift to the last shift, they were going to get their best effort. Over the course of the game you could see players being worn down by that consistent effort. Advocacy is similar – it takes time to absorb complex issues and subject matter. You can’t expect others to absorb all that information in one conversation. You have to be consistent when sharing your perspective.

  1. Be Concise

In hockey, a shift last 45-seconds, sometimes less. In advocating effectively, you have to find ways to boil down an issue and make them easy to digest. You can’t give a 3-hour lecture. If you had 60-90 seconds, could you effectively state your position in a way that the listener could easily repeat? While many issues are more complex than that, it is vital to focus in on the issue in a way that allows people to comprehend.

If you utilize these key principles, you can find the same type of success advocating at the Capitol as you will at your favorite ice rink.

Michigan Legislative Consultants is a bipartisan lobbying firm based in Lansing, Michigan. Our team of lobbyists and procurement specialists provide a wide range of services for some of the most respected companies in America. For more on MLC, visit www.mlcmi.com or connect with us on LinkedIn and Twitter.