I’m not good at pausing to celebrate my own success, and this was pointed out to me some years ago by my sage friend, Vicki Flaherty. She forced me to celebrate one day when something wonderful happened at work. She said, “I want to pause and celebrate this with you.” I had never heard of such an idea (my high Achiever strength (#3) means I’ve already moved on.) I learned it was fun to celebrate!

With that prologue in mind, I invite you to pause and celebrate, albeit belatedly, the amazing success journey experienced by the Cranbrook Varsity Hockey team. In a nutshell, here’s what happened.

January 29, 2015

They were talented and struggling. They found themselves in a series of tied games. Behaviors on and off the ice indicated that the team had not coalesced. A friend of a friend (this is how things happen, don’t they) mentioned my name. I had a great conversation with Coach Andrew Weidenbach. I learned more about his point of view, and then shared my approach to building winning teams. He was all in. We crafted a plan, generously funded by an anonymous donor, to identify the strengths of the team, and then align all that talent behind a common purpose.

January 31, 2015

I worked with the young men, pulling information out of them about what they wanted achieve, how they wanted it to achieve it, and together we assembled the team’s vision of success. (This is something I love to do because it uses my Ideation, Strategic, Learner, Individualization & Maximizer strengths!) Upon completion of this important exercise, the energy in the room was palpable. I knew that was a good sign.

February 2, 2015

By midnight on February 1, every single member of the team, and most of the coaching staff, had taken the Clifton Strengthsfinder. I had a treasure trove of awesomeness to work with! They were amazing – and completely unlike from any team I’d worked with over the past ten years. Crazy amounts of horsepower with really unusual distributions and strengths combinations. They were very different from the statistical norms established by Gallup’s database of 11 million people. As such, they had different needs and motivations. I set about doing what I do – help the team understand itself and leverage that understanding to achieve success.

February 8, 2015

We met again one week later to debrief on their individual and team strengths. In three hours, the team migrated from talented and struggling to talented and ready to rock and roll on the ice. They made the journey of self-awareness, then team awareness, then linking strengths to roles. It didn’t end there. Coach is extremely gifted himself, with Individualization, Command, Responsibility (that’s an unlikely pairing by the way), Activator, and Relator. On his own, Coach leveraged the Strengthsfinder information to deeply appreciate and motivate his guys to bring out the best in them. That’s what success looks like.

They lost the first game after we held the workshop, against the #1 team in Wisconsin. Coach said it was the best they’d ever played AS A TEAM. That’s what success looks like.

They never lost again.

On March 14, six weeks after we first met, the Cranbrook Hockey Team completed the final leg of their difficult voyage. They went from being talented and struggling, to talented and State Champions. I watched them compete in their last six games, and I saw a team that was determined, focused, and filled with energy. They crushed the competition with an unwavering commitment to their definition of success, and to one another. They had become a high-performing unit, with every single young man playing an important role in their success – on and off the ice. That’s what success looks like.

I’ve been documenting the experience from multiple angles – my experience, Coach Weidenbach’s approach, and I’ve even interviewed seven of the players, including both co-captains. Wait until you read the personal accounts of these remarkable young men. Every story is compelling in its own way, but they share a common thread: the journey to become a great team was the destination.  The trophy was a byproduct. That is what success looks like.

Later, I realized that I’d hit the jackpot with my opportunity to work with Coach Weidenbach. He has coached at the professional level, and is one of the most successful high school hockey coaches in the country. We continue to advance his strengths-based success awareness, and we are in early stages of planning next year’s program. I’m so grateful for our partnership.

I’m writing a book about my work with the Cranbrook Hockey Team (it started as a paper, but now that I’m over 100 pages, I think we’re long past the paper phase). It’s a powerful guide on how to leverage the strengths of the individuals to build and lead a winning sports team, yet the parallels to constructing successful business teams are evident on every page. I have a commitment to get a solid draft in my editor’s hands on Sept 16th. (I read that making a goal public increases one’s odds of achieving it! Hold me accountable, people!)

I know what success looks like, because I’ve seen it from the inside out. I’ve worked with a Maestro as he conducted the strengths of his talented team to make music, not noise. It was a blast.

I invite you to pause with me to celebrate the success of the Cranbrook Hockey Team. We have twenty three young men (strengths-based leaders!) entering college, starting a business, or returning to the team later this year. That’s what success looks like, too. Won’t it be fun to watch where they go from here? It will, indeed.

Maureen   Ideation ~ Strategic ~ Learner ~ Achiever ~ Individualization ~ Maximizer


  1. The essence of ‘knowing’ yourself and others make the journey profound. So enriching and enlightening to read what’s happening at your end. Ok, yes we spoke 2 days ago too but again. You make me proud – you make all the people who know proud. Eagerly waiting for you to come to Bangalore and help our Cricket team Maureen.

      • Maureen Monte

      • 9 years ago

      I can’t wait to work with your Cricket team Khalid!! What are you guys called? Thanks so much for your kind remarks – and yes, we spoke recently, but two days is ages and ages since we last talked, for someone with Activator! :) You make me proud, too, my friend – we brought Strengthsfinder to thousands of thousands of people – that fact can’t be taken away no matter what! Rock stars forever, that’s what I say! Let’s do a virtual workshop with your team – I’m up for it if you are. Onward!

  2. You know how I know what winning looks like? Because I’ve been watching you, my friend. No, let me get that right, because I have been engaging with you. Lucky for me, for years now. YOU are a team player – great self-awareness, intentional about understand others, and always holding a vision of greatness and what’s possible.
    I love that you are writing a book about your experience with the Cranbrook Varsity Hockey team. You know I’m in your corner on getting it published. I’ll be checking in with you as the 16th approaches – and looking for those little victories along the way where a little celebration works like fuel for getting to the finish line. Great to have you back to blogging – I’ve missed your posts!

      • Maureen Monte

      • 9 years ago

      Hi Vicki! Oh my goodness – Thank you! We have been engaging for years now – and to never have met! You provide that human touch that makes it easy to remain connected to you. I’m excited about my book (someday I will be an author like YOU!) and about blogging more often. It’s goodness all the way around.

      Little victories add up to big ones – we have to remember that (I have to remember that!) Thanks again!

  3. Hi Maureen, Great story and experience you had. It demonstrates that it takes only will and dedication to achieve whatever we wish and need.
    Thank you for sharing!

      • Maureen Monte

      • 9 years ago

      Hi Alessandra! Thanks so much for swinging by and joining in the conversation! A strong will and relentless dedication are essential ingredients! Have you taken the StrengthsFinder? (Forgive my poor memory). If so, what strengths do you use to feed your will and dedication? I use Achiever, Maximizer, and Strategic to keep me on the right path… (I have absolutely no Discipline, so I have to find other ways.) Curious about you!