I have been a very effective leader for more than half my life.
My leadership journey started at age 12 back in 2006 when I joined Army Cadets.
Today I’m 26 as I write this, and I’m proud to say I coach men on the autism spectrum. I coach men who are serious about mindset to build a kick-ass life.
Making breakthroughs leading my teammates since 2017 as a recreational ball hockey is one part of my life story.
I’ll talk about my story all day long on this blog.
People in HTBHL Vanier know I’m the captain of the Ottawa Knights. In Ottawa I’m a well liked person in several ball hockey leagues. When other teams are playing and I’m about to play a game, I like to shoot the shit with people.
When I show up early, I play games for other teams.
The Ottawa Knights are a C team, and I play as a sub in the B and sometimes the A levels. My friend Alex also has a D team that I play on to get extra games in. My main priority is leading the Ottawa Knights to victory.
I wear the C with pride and work my ass off. Some players have more skill, but I always give 100%.
The reason you should listen to me is because I’m great at helping people and teams accomplish more. I’ve been a character guy my whole life and a leader since day one of my cadet career in 2006.
My success in cadets between 2006-2012 primed me to have even more success. My times succeeding in the past is what I use as a reference to look back on.
It took me everything I had to muster up resilience. I needed heart and resolve to overcome obstacles I went through as a young adult.
If not for my time as a cadet, my demons would have killed me.
I was able to recover and slay most of my demons. It took me a decade to find a way to overcome manic-depression. I was in hell for years with my depression that started in 2012. In fact, I’m still to this day getting my shit together. I’m still working my ass off to become successful, some days are still tough.
I’ve had a rough life, my Dad passed away in 2004 when I was 10 years old. When I was 5 I was diagnosed with Autism. In 2012 I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Those three events were almost enough to make me give up on life, but here I am turning 27 in January.
I’m still here.
My friend Luke had some good words of wisdom for me, he’s gone through hard times himself, we both play in the HTBHL. The thing he said to me was:
“You’ve gone through a lot, but you’re still here.”
I have what it takes to win in the game of life as an individual and lead teams because I’ve been through hell and back. My own hell was deserved. I was arrested for harassing someone who I had feelings for because I was a needy and desperate young man who wanted to be with a woman who was just not available. This is where I own my behavior and take responsibility for my mistakes.
I was going through a severe depression in 2012 that I didn’t see coming. The Ottawa Senators were knocked out by the New York Rangers in April. I began to shut down mentally in May at school. My performance at cadets wasn’t the same either. Nobody could tell that I was facing anything, but I knew I wasn’t the same. I started to run to elevate my mood and I also made a decision to quit procrastinating.
I was promoted to Chief Warrant Officer in June 2012. I felt like a million bucks when I reached my goal of becoming the leader of my cadet unit.
I went to camp and killed it that summer, I was almost the RSM. My competition was against 80 other cadets and I was second best. I came up just a bit short, but was still very excited.
I also play poker because it makes me think of life logically.
Poker has shown me that life has quite the margin for error. You can be sub-par at the poker table and wrong sometimes and make money despite your mistakes. With pot-odds, you know what your margin for error is.
Facing a half-pot bet means you have to be good 25% of the time to make a profitable call. In life, you can fuck up and still try again the next day. No bad hand will kick you out of the game forever.
Like my friend said, “You’re still here”.
You can also play great and lose sometimes.
When you stick to the game-plan, the results will come.
Making a game-plan is key, not giving up is the other key.
The process will stay and results will come and go.
Focusing on results above all else will take away from the process. Results oriented thinking will make you ride the highs and lows. As someone who dealt with bipolar, I know that wellness is a process. If I judged everything by results only, I would be riding waves.
Everyone who works must learn leadership skills. It takes heart and resilience to make it.
Entrepreneurs must be leaders of themselves.
In cadets I was excellent and I never lost self-motivation. Nothing was able to take all my motivation away, not even depression. When I had lower than feel-good motivation, I fell back on my discipline and consistency. Motivation will rise and fall, but if you always show up, that doesn’t matter because you will still execute.
Running businesses takes responsibility. When you have employees, you must pay them on time. If you don’t keep them motivated they won’t be productive. If you fail at leadership, your business will collapse.
My Results as a Leader
In 2006-2007 I wanted my unit to be the best in Canada. We were the best in Ontario for several years running, and I wanted better, because I’m a competitor.
On Christmas Parade in Dec 2006, I was one of 3 of 30 potential cadets promoted to CPL.
My leadership was showing at a young age. I came to cadets with a great attitude and dedication to be the best I could be. The senior cadets at the time all knew I would be the RSM of the unit before my time at cadets would end.
I sure as hell didn’t fall short.
In 2006-2007 Ottawa Senators winger Daniel Alfredsson changed his skates when Chris Kelly offered him one of his pairs. Alfie was struggling in the first half of 06-07. When he got those magic skates from Kelly, he took off.
Alfie went from being booed in his own building to the fans chanting “Alfie”.
Daniel Alfredsson had the MVP second half but Sidney Crosby would take the MVP honor in 07 with 36 goals and 84 assists.
After getting new skates, Daniel Alfredsson lead the 18-18-1 Ottawa Senators to a very strong finish in the regular season never allowing the Sens to lose more than 2 in a row until the playoffs. The mediocre Sens in the first half dominated the second half to get 105 points and the 4th seed in the East. Not bad for a team that started so bad in October.
Dany Heatley was a 50 goal man, Jason Spezza missed games but still had 87 points. Alfie had a strong finish with 29 goals and 60 assists at age 34.
The captain was one of my hero’s while I was in cadets.
Watching Alfie’s work ethic and dedication was the reason I got a hockey stick in 2008 and started to practice.
I learned from watching Alfie over the years. I took on his work ethic wherever I went as I became older. Learning through example is the best way to learn and I have picked good role-models over the years.
In 2007, I was leading without being in charge as a junior NCM and did it by being that guy who never took a night off.
On my fitness tests, I wasn’t number 1, but I would never give up on the exercises. At the end of the day I wanted to be number one. I was a competitor and wanted to be the best in the unit.
I was the best cadet in the unit from 2010-2012 as a Senior Cadet. My attendance in 2010-2011 was perfect and It had to be because I knew my unit and teams depended on me.
The Defining Moment of My Cadet Career
There are many moments I look back on in cadets that I look back on and am very proud of. The greatest thing I ever did and still do is walk the walk when I said, “the success of the unit comes before my own successes.”
On April 22 2010, I had recently returned from an exchange to Barbados with the unit and was a great representative for the unit.
I brought a lot to the table in the exchange. I gave it my all for all 7 days at Barbados. I was one of the top cadets in the exchange and performed well, I had fun and relaxed, but made some breakthroughs as an introvert. Before I used to be quiet and still can be, but the 2010 exchange was the beginning of a more social Angus.
When I got home I was excited to watch the Ottawa Senators compete for the cup. Their first-round opponent was the Pittsburgh Penguins.
I had a big dilemma when the Sens won game 5 in triple OT.
Do I go to the Drill Team competition where I’m an important leader and compete, or do I go to game 6 on home ice and watch the Sens who were facing elimination?
I knew this decision was going to define me as a cadet, even if people would understand my decision to go the game or not even think about my choice. When you are a man of integrity, you have to do what you think is best.
My decision was to honor my values as a leader, so I missed the Sens game and went to Trenton to compete with my drill team.
I was not at the Sens game and they blew a 3-0 lead and lost in Overtime to end their season.
As a drill team, we did well and finished 5th out of 15 teams.
During 2011, I took up ball hockey and played with my soon to be friends at the community center, and my dream was to be a captain one day and lead my team to a cup.
The being a captain part is a true story, getting a cup is yet to come true but will sometime soon.
I’m a player who leads by example.
When I finished my cadet career, I knew ball hockey would be my next obsession.
I reconnected with my grade-school friend Brandon when I saw him on the bus back home from a 2011 Sens game. I knew him from years back, and we started playing ball hockey on the same team seriously in 2012-2013.
I’m also working with the City at DanWill Contracting, and running a business on the side.
Quality 1 of Leadership – Work Your Ass Off
As a hockey player, I care about 2 things.
The first is results, I want to win at any cost.
The second is I don’t take one shift off.
It’s very important for me to lead the way using my strengths and doing what I’m already good at.
My Assistant Captain Brandon is also a leader who is captain of his own ball hockey team in a higher division.
I work together with Brandon to lead the team. We work very hard at hockey and away from hockey to have the best team possible.
He was the captain of his team 4 years before me and told me, “Listen Angus, you need to be a captain, hockey would be way more fun for you if you had that fire back.”
I tried to make a team in 2016 and failed, in 2017 I succeeded at getting the players to build a team with.
I took Brandon on my team, and created the Ottawa Legends.
My number is 94 because I’m born in 1994, and my team was registered on 9/4/17.
In my first ever game as a captain, I took a pass from Brandon and scored on my first shift and first shot. I went down the wing and scored bar-down.
My buddy Nigel was on the bench and said, “this is the best I’ve seen you play.” Next shift I get an assist and then I get another assist a few shifts later.
The first game I was a captain, we lost 7-6 and we almost tied it up with the goalie pulled. We worked hard and looked competitive.
All season long I worked my ass off and put up a personal best 16 points in 11 games with 6 goals and 10 assists.
I was 3rd on the team in points behind my friends Brandon and Jacob.
My first ever team struggled because we were over-matched a lot and had goal-tending issues. But I worked hard, and the team worked hard. We were a team that played with a lot of heart.
The next season we re-branded to the Ottawa Knights in 2018 and I decided to partner with Brandon’s Ottawa Spartans. We had A level players on our team and were moved up to the B division from the C.
During the 2018 season, I had my line-mate Jeremy who was my assistant captain on the Legends. Our line was a shut-down forward line and our top line drove the offence.
In 2018, I gave the A’s to Brandon and Connor because they were long time veteran players with the ability to lead and help me lead. I led the way with good line-matching and bench management.
I was the hardest working man on the team almost all the time.
The Ottawa Knights in Winter 2018 finished 5-5-1 after a 5-2-1 start.
We matched up to a lower seed in the first round.
I reduced certain players playing time in the playoff game and rode the best players. I’m not the type of leader that worries about feelings too much. I dumped many players on my first team when the Legends were 2-8-1.
When we lost the first round in 2018 I changed the roster a little bit.
Good leaders can make decisions that piss people off, I make no apologies for improving my team.
I will even leave myself on the bench if I think a team-mate is doing better than me on that given night.
When I’m in a game, I have a gargantuan work ethic and give it my all every game. This is the number one thing a good leader does.
Quality 2 of Leadership – Show Up 100% of the Time
I work for DanWill Contracting in Ottawa. As you already know, I used to be a cadet, and I’m still a hockey player.
The second-best thing going for me as a leader other than my work ethic is consistency.
I almost never miss a day at work.
It’s important to work hard weather you feel like it or not. The goal is to make money. I don’t ever want to lose a day’s pay. My boss knows I’m reliable.
One of my good friends a couple years ago missed several games and even though his absence may have helped us (it allowed our top players to play more), I was still very pissed.
When a player doesn’t show up to hockey, it’s a slap in the face to the rest of the team. I have no problem cutting a player who doesn’t have enough heart to show up to games.
When I was in Cadets I straight up told my senior cadets, “If you don’t fucking show the fuck up, it means you don’t give a flying fuck and you should just give up and quit.”
I had every right to say that because I was showing up to functions 99.5 percent of the time over the course of 7 years.
When I didn’t it was because I was very sick.
In 2012 I had my first manic episode and was stuck in hospital when I didn’t want to be for a bit more than 2 weeks.
I was pissed I couldn’t show up to anything. I escaped by acting normal so I could get the fuck out.
When I got out I had severe clinical depression as backlash from the mania, I showed up to cadets even though I wanted to kill myself and stay in bed for 18 hours a day.
I had the worst depression imaginable and I STILL fucking showed up. I told one of my MWO’s that I’m going through the worst depression ever, he said “you are amazing for showing up despite that.”
This happened while I was the RSM and the top cadet in my unit. I had to be a leader in my last few months of cadets. Not only did I have to show up, I had to be on my A game.
That took me all the strength I could muster, meanwhile I didn’t have anything left in the tank to show up to school.
Hockey was the only thing I would be able to look forward to because at least I had that distraction on Friday nights.
That one hour every Friday took the pain away, I always showed up to hockey.
At school there were days where I was an hour late and weeks where I didn’t even go.
I had to decide what I could use my limited energy for, and I chose Cadets and ball hockey.
My teacher could see how horrible I was doing, my depression and anxiety were through the roof. She said mindfulness would help me. This was in 2012-2013. I did mindfulness with my tutor who helped me overcome autism related challenges. Being mindful is something that has helped me become aware of tough states. This was so I could deal with them early in the game before I got too high or low.
Meditation gave me a lot more peace of mind and mental energy.
At school it took me both semesters to graduate and finish my last 2 high school credits.
When cadets was over in January, the NHL came back.
I felt a little better, and was also going through trouble with the law as a result of my manic episode. In March my lawyer gave me some good news. From Oct 2012 to Jan 2013, life was disgustingly horrible for me, but I still showed up with all my might.
Eventually things improved.
Quality 3 of Leadership – Resilience
Good leaders can fall, but they get the fuck up and keep going.
I was going for cadet RSM in 2011, but another cadet got promoted instead of me. I felt like I gave it my all and didn’t get rewarded.
You can work your ass off, do everything right and still deal with shitty circumstances.
This will happen in life much of the time.
In hockey there was a bad play I made and a response to my play that I always look back on with pride.
In 2019 the Ottawa Knights were an 8th seed playing the best team in HTBHL’s B division. This monster team was a B team that was beating some A teams, they even beat the A level Ottawa Spartans.
My team finished 8th in the B, and we defeated the second-best B team in the regular season a few weeks before.
I told my team before this game, “We fucking got this. If we can beat the Pistols, we can beat these guys too.”
We won our last game 8-3 to make the playoffs and I scored twice to help my team get in the playoffs.
We were up against a Goliath team, I gave my boys confidence and we had plenty because that morning we made the playoffs in convincing fashion.
I told Jon our top scorer, “you’re will pay 80% of the minutes.”
“Switch with me for that other 20%.”
I knew I would play 7-10 minutes all night, and that didn’t bother me.
Jon and Connor were going to be played as much as possible. I also told Brandon our top defense-man, “Only get off when you have to.”
My game-plan was to have our best players out there as much as possible.
They could be tired later. We had a great top-heavy roster, and I knew my best players were better than their best players. I saw to it that our bench management was better than theirs.
Jon and Connor were in the starting lineup and scored right away. We went up 3-2 at one point in the 1st half.
I went out there and played like a BEAST in that 7 minutes I had all night. I knew my role in this game was to get the team to work hard and spell Jon when he needed to be off to catch his breath.
We were winning 6-5 and pushing hard, I knew this game was going to go down to the wire.
I tried to break up a 2 on 1 back-checking and scored on myself by accident. The game was 6-6 and the other bench was fired up.
But would they win?
Not on my watch, I got off and got Jon back out there and he was being the troll that he always is. Even in the most intense game ever (where I was so pissed about my fuck-up), Jon was savage towards me and pointed out my fuck up.
I got on the bench and Connor said, “you got your stick down and didn’t allow the pass, you made the right play.”
My thought was “this won’t cost our team the game, I won’t fucking let it.”
I motivated my team to keep moving forward. I yelled “dig, lets go.” “Keep fucking battling boys.”
We pulled ahead 8-7 at one point with the clock dying down.
I got out there and dominated a shift, then I got off in the last 2 minutes.
At the end Brandon scored a massive goal to get us ahead 9-7. The other teams bench sank, and I had my finest hour as a captain thus far. The other team was so pissed in the handshake line because we were better and would made the semi-final series.
We lost to the Pistols in the Semi because Jon was missing, that resulted in our offense going dry, if Jon didn’t get hurt, we may have won the cup.
Despite not going all the way, I still take pride in that Quarter-final underdog victory in Ottawa ball hockey’s second-best division.
It takes years to become a great leader, working your ass off, showing up all the time, and being able to bounce back makes up the foundation of strong leadership.
Until Next Time,