Kukla's Korner Hockey

Kukla's Korner Hockey

John Chayka Opens Up

01/11/2022 at 10:06am EST

from John Chayka at Sportico,

Fear is rarely logical. I learned this with certainty on the first Thursday in May 2016—I’m sure of the date because my wife saved the newspapers—the day I was announced as the general manager of the Arizona Coyotes, becoming the youngest general manager in the history of North American professional sports at 26 years old.

I should have been exultant. Instead, I was terrified. I was brimming with more uncertainty and anxiousness than I’d experienced in my life. Though I could not identify it at the time, I was experiencing what psychologists call “imposter syndrome.” First coined in the 1970s, this phenomenon typically afflicts high achievers who attribute their success not to their own abilities, but to a “fluke” or grand good luck. Imposters feel like a fraud destined to fail, despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary.

Driving to the arena in my first days as GM, I remember fixating on my resume, working to talk myself into a degree of self-confidence. I had majored in business at a top school, graduating at the top of my class. I’d been in hockey all my life in one form or another, beginning with countless hours in a backyard rink in Canada to founding the gold standard of hockey analytics, Stathletes Inc., with my brother-in-law in his basement. I was also overseeing a restaurant portfolio with a larger staff and more expansive operations than my eventual position with the Coyotes. (We now operate over 30 restaurants, employ over 1,000 people across Canada, and I sit on the board of Wendy’s Canada.)

Only in retrospect did I fully grasp that this fear and self-doubt was strength in disguise.


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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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