You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take. – Wayne Gretzky


Life is all about the chances we take. Either we succeed, or we fail. However, if we don’t even give it a try, the possibility of success is eliminated totally and failure is what we see. On the other hand, taking risky shots sometimes gives so unexpectedly positive results that we are unable to believe them. The famous quote by Wayne Gretzky goes “You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take” which provides a unique perspective to how we live our lives. The quote also carries a deeper philosophical meaning which shall be discussed below. 

Wayne Gretzky

Who is Wayne Gretzky?

After reading the quote, many people think that this would be a quote by some poet, writer, motivational speaker, or philosopher. However, it is nothing like that. Wayne Gretzky is a former professional ice hockey player from Canada. He has played 20 seasons in the National Hockey League over a period of 20 years between 1979 and 1999. For his outstanding performance, he has been regarded as one of the greatest hockey players of all time. He has also been given the nickname of “The Great One” because of his exceptional play in the game. 

Gretzky has scored more than 50 goals in the first 39 games which have earned him a new record.  As he came to his retirement in 1999, Wayne Gretzky had 61 National Hockey League records along with 40 regular-season records. He is also among the rare players to have 6 All-Star Records. Experts suggest that Wayne Gretzky has held such an excellent performance in hockey because he started quite early, as early as the age of 2 when he tried to score goals with a Souvenir Stick. 

Wayne Gretzky is a famous hockey player

The Origin of the Quote

The origin of this quote was quite interesting as it was intended in the manner of sports but went on to carry a deep philosophical meaning as well. Wayne Gretzky said to his team once “You miss 100% of the shots you never take”. The main motive behind this line was to motivate the team to play more actively and take a wild risk in playing a shot that they are scared of. He wanted to encourage the team to be more into the game. 

While it was a sports metaphor at that time, this quote became a center of attention for Wayne Gretzky as it can be linked with several other walks of life too. This quote became so famous that it was even featured in the TV Show, The Office where the lead character Micheal Scott quotes Gretzky on this quote. A fun part about this quotation was that Micheal Scott presented this quote by giving Gretzky and himself, both, credits for it even though it was a line by Wayne Gretzky himself. 

Detailed Meaning of Quote by Wayne Gretzky

As this quote got its fame, people started to make several inferences out of it. The most important one is the risk-taking factor. As we see from Wayne Gretzky’s life, there are several records under his name. Not all shots that he has played in hockey were successful. Not all shots he took were risk-aversive. As a matter of fact, many of his shots were quite risky but gave him an unexpected outcome that led to the decisive win of his team. Without taking such risks, he wouldn’t have become the top-class player in the National Hockey League today. It is his willingness to go ahead and take risks despite the assurance of results that helped him rise to the top. 

From this perspective, we can evaluate that if we are always afraid of failing, and we never take any risk, we are ultimately closing down on the possible ways we have for rising up. Not doing something guarantees that it will definitely not happen. However, it is trying something which gives the slightest of chances for a thing to work well. This is an important perspective that many people don’t understand. For those who do understand this perspective, get to the top. 

Closeup of memorial of Wayne Gretzky

Another example in this regard can be of entrepreneurs who have gotten successful. When they started their business, they invested their time and effort with the risk that it might not work well. Today, they are classified among the multi-billionaires and most influential people of the world too. Examples can be Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, and Mark Zuckerberg. Even a small entrepreneur, or a small company, took that risk. While not all of them were successful, those that didn’t even show up certainly didn’t have any chance at all.

We can also infer from this quote that the element of giving up is explained. Many people give up too early or just don’t even begin trying. As a result of this, those that do not give up take positions from those that did. This is one reason why there are only a few successful people and the majority of unsuccessful people. It is because they did not give up. Even after taking the first shot and failing, they took another shot and they kept on taking it until they got successful at what they were planning to do. This is quite an important concept and needs to be understood well. 

The quote is also against excessive negativity and pessimism. Most people don’t take the shots that they can because they are concerned with the excessive negativity that comes from around them. One of the main reasons why people don’t take risks is because they feel that if they fail, they will not be able to face others or they will regret taking the chance. Some even think that others will make fun of it. 

However, in a philosophical context, the shots that are not taken are the ultimate regrets. The main reason for this is that people around someone are temporary. They might not be there tomorrow. As far as making fun is concerned, it won’t go on for long. Moreover, there can be some cost of achieving an ultimate level of success too which could be the negative behavior of those around you. 

Memorial of Wayne Gretzky

A key example in this regard can be KFC. Colonel Sanders tried out his fried chicken recipe several times and started selling from a roadside restaurant. During his life, he faced several domestic problems as well as family problems. His mental health was affected so badly that he even attempted suicide multiple times after the business failures multiple times. Even then, he did take the shot on fried chicken and eventually got successful. Today, KFC is open in every corner of the world. 


We can conclude that Wayne Gretzky has rightfully said “You miss 100% of the shots you never take”. No matter if it is sports, or life in general, the rule stays the same. One needs to give it a try to find out an outcome. Without trying, there is no outcome, and without an outcome, what is even the point of living. Living too risk-free is as bad as living too risky. Therefore, one should adopt the policy of staying in the middle to be successful. By the end of it, what won’t kill you will make you stronger


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