What is happening to hockey in Canada?

January 20, 2014

What is happening to hockey in Canada? As you know, this has been a question that has been asked for decades. As a high-performance coach, I have worked with business teams, sports teams, executives, individual athletes, dancers, and actors from around the world in multiple sports and business venues. I think I have a fairly good understanding of what happens when we move away from a developmental mode and prioritize winning. The clear distinction between a developmental model and a winning model is that winning is about performance now, short term gains, nearsightedness and performance based with high pressure, and of course short learning time that creates huge gaps in learning.

A good developmental model on the other hand looks at long-term gains, farsightedness, low pressure, and greater learning time so that transitions within skills, knowledge, and execution can be accomplished.


What is wrong in hockey or any sport is always the psychology behind it. Every generation is part of the same old problem because the grass roots of the game are not found in the principles of coaching but founded on principles of “Win at any cost”. This winning at any cost is the result of parents’ self interest and greed. We sacrifice their children’s fun, learning, skills and development because of the money investment in their child, getting a scholarship, making team Canada, and, if you have son, the ultimate: making the NHL.


Having two sons in the NHL, both played junior hockey, both decided to skip university or college and it has been a good choice for them. However, as a high-performance coach it has been an interesting ride doing damage control with both my sons from the external control coaching that is rampant in hockey where winning at any cost becomes the premise for competing.


I have spent the last 35 years of my life as a high-performance coach traveling the world, dealing with coaches, athletes, and administration on how to have a more effective and competitive culture. In all the countries that I’ve worked in, I find that Australia seems to be light-years ahead in the area of sport training and ethics by fully committing to a developmental model for athlete performance.


One of the most respected and decorated coaches in Canada is a track coach Andy Higgins. What makes Andy so successful and what makes the athletes around him so successful is he puts the developmental model of the person ahead of the athlete. I don’t believe Andy practices any external psychology when he works with athletes. It is the psychology of external control that creates the downfall in any sport worldwide. Unfortunately hockey uses the axioms of external control and I’m just one of the people that helps pick up the pieces in an environment that is sometimes torturous to our young men. Every year I deal with 40 to 60 young men who end up in some situational crisis because of the coaching they have seen that is unbelievably detrimental to the athlete as a human being.


I have worked with many players in the NHL, AHL, OHL, AAA, AA, A…all the way down to E levels, helping them recover from the brutal coaches who use external psychology as their modus operandi. If you are a coach or a GM and are reading this article, it might be a good idea if you consider what’s being said because this is the psychology that is poisoning your operation at every level it’s practiced. And what is more difficult to understand is that there is a different psychology of internal control that people can learn but it takes longer to learn it but the benefits and payoffs are enormous and extremely cost-effective.


The consequence of external coaching results in an atmosphere of win at any cost. Therefore in that attitude it makes the parents, coach, athlete focus on outcomes rather than the process of constant improvement. The outcome of winning outweighs the process of developing


Brent Sutter, who has a keen eye from his perch as owner, general manager and coach of the Red Deer Rebels said “There’s too much focus on winning and losing at such a young age.” I agree with Mr. Sutter and I believe this statement to be true. However, that difficulty arises because of the psychology that is practiced in the grass roots of hockey in our schools, work places, homes, and all the way up to the NHL, is external psychology and boss management.  We fail to understand that our brains are conditioned to external psychology and it is part of our evolution that it exists and if human beings are going to take the next leap in our development, we have to change our psychology.


Teams in Europe who are developing their hockey programs will naturally catch up to Canada as all nations catch up to other nations in sports when they pour money into programs. Easily put, it gets harder and harder to win as other teams learn and improve. It is the same as the BlackBerry company, who once lead the market share, others catch up and it gets hard to be successful unless you do something different that your competition isn’t. It is the same as in the free-market: the competition gets better and better until you have to learn to do things differently and produce a better product.


Human society in North America is suffering with affluence. Where there is affluence, there is greed! Look what this greed has done to hockey! Because only the rich can play the sport, we have cut off a huge cross-section of young children who have always been the backbone of Canadian hockey. These kids, who have to grow up with tremendous adversity and triumph over so much, developed character traits that deal with pressure more effectively. So now the question becomes: how do you get the best out of kids that are spoiled and can’t handle adversity? Don’t get me wrong here – I think every child should be spoiled. Most of the kids that I see in my private practice for counseling aren’t spoiled, but they definitely have been raised in external psychology environments.


External control psychology is the psychology that destroys every family, marriage, sports team, and business team – anything to do with human relationship. One of the biggest signs of external psychology are its practices of blame or fault finding.


There are people, teams, and organizations that have taken that leap and very little external psychology is practiced. Organizations that practice external control kill creativity and leadership. My example of this is BlackBerry. I have been a BlackBerry user for years but you can see that they slowly fell behind because they couldn’t keep pace with innovation and creativity and leadership because they probably practice most of the habits of external control when coaching their people within their organization. External psychology is always at the root of every human endeavor that fails; you can’t have people be creative if they are in fear of losing their job, their sense of well-being, or their meaning or purpose for existence.


The TSN analyst Bob McKenzie noted on Sunday, “My theory is that it’s between the ears, Canada is fearful of losing.”


External Psychology is driven by 5 basic conditions that affect everything we do! If any of these conditions dominates your thinking you are an external control maniac, and eventually you will destroy the environment for yourself and others to be a successful team. These five conditions of external control are psychological habits in human behavior that are real weapons of destruction because they maintain our glorified self-interest and give us the feeling that we are right and know what is best for other people.


Condition 1. Human beings are conditioned to believe that you can motivate somebody my external means. This means that we are basically stimulus response machines. And we are not! Just because someone yells at me or mistreats me, I don’t have to mistreat them back. The counter condition of internal psychology is: I am not responsible for how other people treat me. I am only responsible for how I treat others.


Condition 2. External psychology believes that whenever I am upset or unsuccessful it is always someone else’s or something else’s fault. Human beings are blamers and we avoid responsibility for our part. The counter internal psychology condition we need to learn is that whenever something goes wrong or I am unsuccessful, I must look at what I am doing or how I’m thinking and change that and take full responsibility for my part in things. Unhappy ineffective people blame other people. Happy effective people self-evaluate!


Condition 3. External psychology teaches that whenever things go wrong or I am upset, not only is it other people’s fault but I go around wanting other people to change. The counter in internal psychology condition is whenever things go wrong and I’m upset I should change myself.


Condition 4. External psychology teaches that by the time I am a teenager I’m beginning to know what’s best for me. I start to individuate and become my own person and begin to choose my own friends, my own music, the people I want to hang with, and my sense of individuality. That isn’t the problem. The problem of external psychology in the fourth premise happens when I get this major insight that tells me not only do I want to know what’s best for me, I also know what’s best for other people. This is probably the most damaging premise of all because once you know what is best for other people and you shove it down their throat, they learn to dislike you more and more, thus you end up destroying the relationship with them. The internal psychology counter to this premise is learning that you only know what’s best for you and back off trying to think you know what’s best for other people – let them self-determine.


Condition 5. External psychology teaches that you are the house you live in, the car you drive, the amount of money in your bank account, the letters after your name, and your particular religious or political belief system. Internal psychology teaches that all you are is a human being. You have a right to be happy, a right to be here, a right to live the way you want to live but you are by no means more important than anyone else.


How these five conditions are practiced in your organization or on your team is self-evident. Below are the habits of external control where most people live their lives.


The most damaging of the habits is called criticism. Most people believe that there is such thing as constructive criticism. You have only to ask yourself the last time some person gave you some of their constructive criticism and you said, ‘Gee, thank you that was wonderful. Now I feel terrific and highly motivated.’ Criticism is a real fun killer because one of a human’s basic needs is to learn and criticism kills learning because criticism kills fun. Bobby Orr, in an interview with the CBC, commented about minor hockey not allowing kids to have fun. He indicated that coaches today put their own kids first, as their main interest. There’s a high-level of truth to that because of the conditioning of external control psychology.


The counterbalance to criticism is praise and catching people doing things right and giving them feedback after asking them if they want some feedback. Giving people feedback without asking their permission is disrespectful.


The next external control habit that people use in relationship is blaming. Human beings are blamers. We blame every time we are unable to really look and self-evaluate and be part of the solution instead of escaping the problem. Brent Sutter, making the comment that it’s got nothing to do with coaching, is again practicing external psychology. Coaching is definitely a huge part of the game.


The next external control habit is humiliation. People use humiliation to control other people. This is the essence of racism, sexism, and any sense of discrimination. The counterbalance to this habit is learning acceptance, it’s celebrating differences and allowing people to feel comfortable with what they value. In hockey, humiliation is used all over the place. Old-school coaching is about tearing individuals down and then so-called putting them back together. This philosophy is Neanderthal.


The next external control habit it is punishment. If punishment worked on criminals, institutions would be empty. Punishment deters cooperation, insight, and intelligence. You see this in the hockey world were coaches punish for losses using the old bag skate. Most old-school coaches find this militant mentality works because it satisfies their need for power and diminishes everyone else’s need for empowerment. Internal psychology teaches this: let the players determine where they have to improve and where the team has to improve and take full responsibility by generating practices that are fulfilling to the athletes, through discussions. Yes, believe it or not, the kids playing the game know more about the game than the coaches behind the bench. This is a hard reality for coaches the face. The coach’s job is to get the players on the team to buy into the game plan that he believes in, and using his best research of the teams they are playing, show the players he has the way to succeed.


The next external control habit is rewarding. Rewarding people to control them is the essence of how most people parent and coaches use to motivate. Rewards are often used within the business world and what ends up happening is people may like the rewards but dislike the rewarder. People or athletes get the feeling that the coach/manager is always dangling a carrot in front of the person’s face. The internal control habit is helping people identify one’s qualities to manage and creating environments that are need satisfying to build people’s sense of autonomy and skill. Learning or improving your skill set is its own reward.


The next external control habit is guilting. This again is often used as a means to gain control of people by getting them to do what you want them to do regardless of if they want to do it or not. Using guilt as a means to gaining what you want in a relationship will always cripple the relationship. The internal control habit is practicing self-evaluation through open, honest discussion that creates meaning and purposeful relationships and work processes to develop the skills, product, or situation analysis.


The next two external control habits go together – nagging and complaining. These external control habits destroy relationship but people often put up with them because they see the person as venting, which never corrects or changes the situation. People just tend to hide from people who are always venting or nagging. Nagging and complaining are just mental states that reveal a person’s lack of skill in coaching to address the immediate pressure in the situation.



If Canada wants to build a dynasty in hockey or if a team wants to become a dynasty at any level there are certain things that are a must.


  1. Train all people in understanding what external psychology is, how it plays out in the relationships with other people and the organization, and teach them a new psychology of internal control. This must be taught to every person within the organization. The people within the organization must commit to removing all external psychology language that shows up in boss management as a means to how they govern their organization.


  1. The organization must create a caring, safe, supportive environment that has the best interest of the people within the organization in mind. This means that the longevity and security of the people within the organization take the priority. You must rid the environment of fear and coercion. The easiest thing to do when teams are not performing is to fire the coach, or when the team is not performing trade players. This creates within the team the feeling of insecurity, and where there is insecurity and the survival need of people is threatened, you cannot create a dynasty.


  1. Meaningful, purposeful work has to become the forefront of every operation within in the organization. Accountability and improved performance have to being drawn out of the people within the organization in a way that builds relationship, support, and cooperation. The only way this can be achieved is by the people who are doing the managing practice internal psychology and remove all external psychology language and conditions from their daily practices.



  1. That open and honest discussion about quality and what quality looks like becomes the central theme within the organization. Nothing is acceptable but quality, whatever quality can be determined by at that time. This means that CEOs, GMs, coaches, and managers are responsible to create environments with players and employees to discover what quality looks like and how it is best achieved by constant improvement of the systems in place. Quality management is when coaches and managers all work to improve the system, never the employee or an athlete.


  1. Everything done within the organization always feels purposeful and helpful and good for everyone within the organization. There are very few teams that operate on all these five conditions but some teams do come close. In 2013 I did some work with the Detroit Redwings and I believe that the people running the organization understand internal psychology though they haven’t fully seen its necessity but it is behind the success of the organization.


The other difficulty with internal psychology is that it means that change has to happen from the top down. People have to really look and evaluate not only what they’re doing but how they do what they do and that brings about a revolution within the organization. People are terrified of change especially when they have to share power and responsibility with other people. The bottom line is that people don’t give their full effort unless they have power and responsibility in anything they do.


Let’s take a look at Wayne Gretzky, probably the most brilliant hockey mind that ever was. Wayne couldn’t coach because he doesn’t understand internal psychology. He really doesn’t understand how he pulls out of himself what he does and how he did because no one has ever shown him. If Wayne Gretzky understood more internal psychology and brought internal psychology to an organization, he would build a dynasty that would dominate the National Hockey League for decades. I would not say he would win the Stanley Cup every time but what he would do is put his team in a position where they could win the Stanley Cup and that’s what a good organization does, puts their team in contention. Internal control psychology clearly helps people and organization understand the factors within their control and also helps them to perceive the factors that are outside of their control and manage them respectfully. It would take approximately three years to turn an organization around completely and get them headed in the right direction practicing internal psychology. One of the most important facets of internal psychology is the realization that you can buy people time and skill but they have to give you their work ethic, passion, and creativity. Learning internal psychology coaches these three main ingredients out of athletes and employees but fear keeps most owners, GM’s, coaches, and managers in the dark ages.


Coachbri Giving Workshop In Kelowna On Relationships

January 28, 2012
Creating the Relationships you need and want
Brian O’Reilly DSW,CT/RT
HPP Level 1 Workshop
3 Full Days
Date: February 17,18,19. 2012
Location: #314, 3001 Tutt St. Kelowna
Cost: $600
Includes: 3 lunches and 2 dinners
Save $50
Online registration
Limited registration, Save $50 off cost with full payments 2 weeks in advance.
Check website for further details.
You can also contact John Leinemann
Brian O’Reilly began coaching and giving seminars on human potential at the age of seventeen. For the past 30 years, he
has coached amateur, professional and Olympic athletes as well as business professionals and executives. Brian and his wife
Bonnie have worked with youth and their families for the past 15 years. They operate a parent model group home and
treatment foster program for several Children’s Aid Societies. Brian’s passion and understanding of human behaviour acts as a
catalyst in organizations and individuals, helping them reach new levels of effectiveness in their personal and business lives.
Relationship Renovations
At Human Potential Plus we believe that happiness
in life comes from the balance between relationships
at home and relationships at work. The ability to
understand relationships will provide you with the
power needed to get along with the people you want
to and need to in order to improve your life. Knowing
the habits that destroy them and choosing a different
course of action can breathe new life into relation-
ships, the cornerstone to happiness.
This course brings an understanding of the problems
in relationships that keep people from getting along.
The course develops pathways to effectiveness
through the understanding of basic needs and meet-
ing the pictures of quality we have about ourselves
as partners, parents, coworkers, friends, etc. Further-
more, the course encourages the removal of old
habits related to external psychology by replacing it
with internal psychology; a process we unknowingly
practice when our lives are working for us.
Day 1
– Understand the common problems that create disconnection in
our relationships.
– Understand what we do with information and learn how to use
this information to make effective choices.
– Understand motivation and our basic needs.
– Understand the process of choice and creating the possibility of
– Learn how to negotiate your relationships and choosing
Day 2
– Learn the art of relationship coaching.
– Learn how to create intimacy in your relationships.
– Learn how to connect with people who are disconnecting from
Day 3
– Learn the art of mastery coaching vs. bossing and putting what
we have learned into practice
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February Workshop in Varna

January 3, 2012

December Workshop

November 15, 2011

November Workshop

October 22, 2011

Fall Conference

July 18, 2011

Harvard scientists disciplined for not declaring ties to drug companies

July 4, 2011

reposted from http://blogs.nature.com/news/2011/07/harvard_scientists_disciplined.html

Three US psychiatrists, responsible for trailblazing the use of antipsychotic drugs in children, are facing sanctions for their failure to declare their acceptance of millions of dollars from pharmaceutical companies between 2000 and 2007.

Joseph Biederman, Thomas Spencer and Timothy Wilens, child psychiatrists at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, were first identified three years ago in an investigation led by Iowa Republican Senator Charles Grassley as failing to disclose potential conflicts of interests that could have arisen due to payments from pharmaceutical companies.

Biederman had pioneered the diagnosis of bipolar disorder in children and adolescents, a disorder previously thought to affect only adults. One of the world’s most influential child psychiatrists, Biederman’s work led to a 40-fold increase in paediatric bipolar disorder diagnoses and an accompanying expansion in the use of antipsychotic drugs – developed to treat schizophrenia and not originally approved for use in children – to treat the condition.

However, Biederman and his colleagues Spencer and Wilens failed to accurately disclose the large consultancy fees they were receiving from pharmaceutical companies that make antipsychotics whilst conducting this research. At the time, Harvard and Mass. General rules forbade researchers from running trials of drugs that were made by companies paying them more than $10,000 a year, whilst National Institutes of Health regulations stipulated that grant recipients report any payments from pharmaceutical companies above this value to their universities.

Grassley revealed the trio’s misconduct in 2008, following his high-profile investigation of the psychiatrist Charles Nemeroff, and the three eventually admitted to receiving a combined total of $4.2 million from drug companies. The large number of psychiatrists investigated by Grassley’s probe poses the question of whether this field is more susceptible to competing interests or, as some suggest, suffers from higher scrutiny due to prejudices against psychiatry.

The Massachusetts General Hospital announced last Friday that it had completed its review of Biederman, Spencer and Wilens, and that “appropriate remedial actions” were being taken. In a letter to their colleagues, the three scientists explained that they were banned from participating in “industry-sponsored outside activities” for one year, to be followed by a two-year period of close monitoring and a delay in consideration for promotion.

The NIH relies upon research institutions themselves to monitor the interests of researchers and universities do this by requesting academics to voluntarily declare conflicts. The three Harvard scientists, who failed to report the full extent of their industrial payments, say that their collective misconduct was an honest mistake and that they had always believed that they were “complying in good faith with institutional policies”.

Last month, Pfizer announced its new collaborations with eight Boston research facilities. Cooperative efforts between academia and industry are on the rise as both face pressures to cut costs and it is hoped that by brokering more formal research agreements and paying money to institutions rather than individuals, conflicts of interests can be avoided.

Meanwhile, Grassley continues to push forward the Physician Payment Sunshine Act, which would require organisations to report all cumulative payments over $100,000 to physicians to the government. Each violation of the law would warrant a fine between 10,000 – 100,000 dollars – a punishment somewhat more severe than that faced by Biederman and his colleagues.

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June 8, 2011






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Internal Psychology Level 1 Goderich Ontario

May 27, 2011

Internal Psychology

The way that we process and understand our world can be looked at in two ways – externally and internally.  External psychology is looking outside of ourselves to understand our lives. There are times when this is necessary. But most of the time it is about blame, judgment and creating a never-ending cycle of pain and suffering.

Internal psychology looks at what is going on inside. We still look at what’s going on around us. But what is more interesting is how those things are processed within us. Why do some things affect us so much and others don’t? Why do we keep attracting the same kinds of people and circumstances year after year?  How do we look inside of ourselves for the real understanding of what we are living with? Because it is only when we start looking inside, that we truly start to thrive.The main focus is the psychology of relationships.  Relationships are the primary basis of the lives of all living creatures. By looking at the inner dynamics of our relationships, we can access an amazing universal intelligence and truly start growing in all aspects of our lives.  But first we must de-condition ourselves from our attachment to the external psychology that keeps us trapped in pain and suffering.

Level I training

Level I training is for those people who spend most of their time being with other people. This training focuses on developing and maintaining healthy positive relationships. It is a fitness training process for the mind that enhances one’s understanding of behavior and motivation. To be inner fit is to achieve a balance between what you want, what you do to get what you want, and the way you do it that reflects your well-being and mental health.

This training educational training is useful in all professions as well as improving the quality of all personal relationships that help create a more effective work life balance.


This intensive, 20+hours of training is being offered at the Station in June.

June 10-12

When: Friday from 7-10 p.m., Saturday from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m., and Sunday from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Cost: $350+HST, or $500+HST per couple. Registration includes lunches

Instructor: Brian O’Reilly

East Street Station

1 Maitland Road North

Goderich, Ontario N7A 0A2

(519) 524-5612

Human Potential Plus Annual Conference

May 16, 2011

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