A common expression that has always intrigued me is, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Another version of this is, “You can’t hit anything if you don’t take a shot.” And there is, “How can you hit anything if you don’t shoot?”
Wayne Gretzky, famous and hugely successful hockey player, is credited for the first version of this. For hockey, the expression is apropos and makes perfect sense. In the game of hockey, you can’t score a goal if you don’t take a shot at the net. But thanks to a dear friend and some further thoughts about the quote, I have concluded that there are other interpretations that make sense to me.
Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying, “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” It occurs to me that there are efforts that make more sense than committing a process on impulse or knee-jerk reaction. In fact, maybe it’s the shots we don’t take that have greater significance than those that we do.
The first example that I can identify is part of parenting. With the years of experience and exposure that we have over our children, it’s easy to do things for them. Math problems, shoe tying, bathing, letter-writing and thousands of other learning tasks can be completed more quickly if we do them ourselves instead of letting children devise their own problem-solving. But it’s generally a mistake to take over those efforts instead of letting our kids find solutions.
With another interpretation, taking only some shots instead of all seems to be a more prudent path. Because I am not a hunter, I can’t speak to waiting for the “perfect” shot to take down game. But as a parent, educator and writer, it does make sense to wait for the right time to make certain that my deeds have the greatest chance of success.
Maybe it’s simply a matter of timing. Maybe it’s identifying the best possible space to make our feelings known. Or perhaps if we are always in the process of taking one type of shot or another, the potential is diminished for any one of them to succeed. And so, taking every available shot may be good advice for hockey, it’s not necessarily viable for the rest of life. If we seek to do something or write something that is worthwhile, being selective rather than random sounds like a preferred trajectory. Shalom.