Let It Be A Village

by: Mike Vernace

The most overwhelmingly obvious thing for me to note about my career is that I’ve had the absolute best support system rooting for me.

When you have this backbone supporting you, it makes it quite a bit easier to “go all-in” on yourself. To make choices that some might think aren’t going to be successful, but you know that you have the strength of 10–20–30 of your closest friends / family cheering for you so strongly that it gives you so much inspiration that you act in a matter of strength you didn’t know you had. Given to you by them.

What’s actually amazing is that, I think people know this. But then they forget to acknowledge it.

People want to support you. People want to help. 

So why wouldn’t you accept it?

It comes down to humility. You believe that you know better than all of the people around trying to offer a hand and to lend advice.

You know what, maybe you do know better. Maybe you’ve educated yourself enough in these areas and you know what you’re doing.

So what? You can’t be thankful that people want to be helpful?

Let it be known that there are actually good people in this world that will actually give good advice for free, that really do just want to see you succeed, that do care for you up front without asking anything in return. And if they are benefitting from it in some way, honestly, what’s the big deal anyways? Advice is advice. You always have the option of making your own choices. It’s up to you to decide what to think. They are just pointing things out. Use that!

Stop for a second and ask yourself: Have I been offered help, only to think to myself, “Yeah whatever, I know what I need to do.”

Ok, maybe you do know what you need to do. And?

You can’t be grateful to this person, who’s willing to offer advice? To at least listen to it? There’s an opportunity for growth in so many ways. You might actually learn something new. You might see something differently.

Or, more importantly, you might actually feel the love that they are trying to give you.

Notice now that this message is important for everyone, but somehow you’re starting to think about it and say, “Is this me?”

Maybe. Maybe not. The only person that really knows that answer is you, if you’re totally honest with yourself.

Look, I’m a hockey kid too. I know what it’s like for parents. I saw my parents go through it. The stress of who to actually listen to, and what they knew best for me. I will tell you right now, the most important thing my parents did was they listened to everything people had to say, took what they thought was best, and then by understanding who I was they pointed me in the direction they thought was best.

That’s all they could do. It was up to me to do the work.

I understood from really young that my family (parents, brother, aunts/uncles, cousins, grandparents, my neighbours, my best friends) had my back no matter what. But it was up to me to show them that I was thankful.

It’s not only in an open letter setting. It’s not only by posting to social media. Although these are great ways to show your gratitude, they are but one moment.

Instead, you need to invest time with the people that have your back. Understand why they do.

The place I go to when I need the most critical advice, when I’m really stuck on making big decisions, is the place I’ve always been: the kitchen table at my grandmother’s house for an afternoon espresso with her and our neighbour. These two Italian ladies have had more influence on my hockey career than probably anyone else in the world. They helped me see things differently; through the eyes of experience making difficult life choices. I can see what it means to make great sacrifices for the possibility of a greater future. 

These are just examples of what I’ve experienced. The love I feel from my support system is truly unique, and very surreal.

To be honest, I knew I would win with this kind of support. From when I was young. I knew that having an entire section filled with people at an arena in Brampton, Ontario every Sunday meant something. I knew that having my uncles and aunts drive me to tournaments would mean something. I knew that having my grandmother chase me in the driveway would mean something. I knew that being used as a means of helping people get over their differences would mean something. I knew that having my mom and dad sacrifice their time would mean something. I knew it. All.

They made it easy for me to bet it all on myself. 

Thank you to my village. I love you guys.


(photo credit)

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