There was a time in Graeme's life when all he wanted was to fit in. He had found the place where he belonged. Graeme now felt he wanted to sink into his new life and disappear into the crowd. In his youth, the best way for Graeme to get by was to become what surrounded him. If nobody could see him nobody could criticize him.
Graeme enjoyed his summers digging holes in the yard, swimming in the lake and skating on the ice in the winter. He admired family members who became successful hockey players. They inspired him to improve his own skills. On the days Graeme found himself alone on the ice, he pictured himself skating with all the people emulated on the ice. These are the people that pushed him skate harder, shoot harder and be stronger.
Graeme had only been learning to skate for a couple of seasons before he found himself at his first tournament. The tournament was a new city far away. The whole family was there to watch. Graeme and his team were not very successful in the outcome, but one thing happened and inspired him more than any word could. Graeme scored his first goal.
On the ice during an insignificant game, Graeme found himself battling for puck possession in front of the opponent’s net. He was competing not just the opponent’s goalie and defensive players, but also his own teammates. It was every player for himself as a goal was on the line. Graeme reached and stabbed the ice with his stick while pushing himself deeper into the crowd of bodies. With his eyes on the puck he watched as it bounced on someone else's stick and landed right in front of him. Graeme swung and slapped at the puck. The goalie lost sight of the puck and it slid underneath him into the net. It counted, the point was added to the score board and Graeme celebrated with his teammates while his family cheered in the stands.
Graeme learned that day the exhilaration of scoring a goal. He also discovered something about himself. Graeme learned that if he worked hard for something the reward was much greater. He quickly realized that working hard at anything became its own reward. The problem was that he could no longer fit in or disappear. If he set a goal for himself it was to excel. He discovered the value in being different and that his difference provided him the tools to succeed.