Wayne Gretzky

A couple weeks ago I heard a great quote from Wayne Gretzky…and I can’t stop thinking about it!

“Skate to where the puck is going, not to where it’s been.” – Wayne Gretzky


In case you don’t know who Wayne Gretzky is, he is a GREAT hockey player.  …And here is what I am thinking about his quote.  In Extension we frequently are conducting needs assessments that assess where our clientele are at this moment, and then we set about developing or presenting materials that are in the moment needs that are identified by our needs assessments.  We also have some smaller groups in Extension that are focused on the next five years or so….ie the 2025 Technology group.  But as I thought about Wayne Gretzky’s quote, I started wondering if that was enough.

I know that many of our groups have talked about trends in our focus areas, and think a bit about those trends…but are we analyzing them enough to determine whether we are programming toward fads or societal trends?  A fad of course in six months or so will be out of date…resulting in development of one and done programming.  A societal trend however is a movement toward or away from something that we will probably never see reversed….ie global communities.  I think it’s time that we start really giving ourselves time to pause and think about what we are doing in the long-term.  Are we developing programming for this season, this year, the next five years…or are we developing programming that puts Extension in the driving seat in 50 years?  We can’t ignore the current needs…but I think we might be doing ourselves a disservice by not thinking about the long-term societal trends that are emerging on the horizon.

Case in point….a couple years ago at our Fall Conference, we identified the idea of developing a Google like platform whose searches would only pull up research based information. I shared with Chuck that Lindsay Chichester, Connie Reimers-Hild and I had talked about that several years ago and that we thought a clever name for it would be NUgle.  🙂  Anyway, now we have had another Fall Conference since, and yet, no movement has been made on this lofty goal…or any of the others we spent a day identifying.  I know this because I remembered thinking that this one goal was what I thought out of all of those generated that would really make an impact on Nebraskans.  And yet this year, I noticed a trend that I think would make this project irrelevant.  You see this year as I have been out working with kids, I noticed that they don’t Google so much…now they all use Siri or Alexa!  Nugle would be a total waste of time now….cause we just couldn’t quite get to the point of development and implementation in a timely manner.  And while all of the individuals of my generation are busy worrying about whether Siri or Alexa are “listening in on their conversations” (they are…we just need to move forward), we are missing yet another opportunity to serve a big audience, in a different way, that truly would be an amazing opportunity for Extension.

For several years now I’ve talked about the tagline of “Living locally, but learning & working globally.” I think that’s more important than ever and today I’m going to start choosing to set aside time at least once a week to work on “skating to where the puck is going, not to where it’s been.”   Will I fail…YEP…but that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t pop right back up and keep skating to where the puck is going!


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