Golf is a funny game. Perhaps no other game is more challenging to master. There are so many similarities between golf and life. The lessons we learn on the golf course we can take off the course as well.
One lesson is that positive adjustments do not always give us positive results in the short-term. Often times we can decide to make a small adjustment in our golf swing. It could be a positive adjustment to our grip, our setup or our swing itself. Maybe it was instruction given by a professional that we paid to help us get better. While it may be a positive change to make us better, it doesn’t feel that way. It feels awkward. It feels uncomfortable. This results in us hitting the ball even worse. We feel like we are going backwards not forward.
I have experienced this more times than I can count on my golf journey. But I have also experienced it off the course even more. So often the changes we make to get better in the long run bring short term discomfort. We make adjustments to give us a better future, but it makes us more uncomfortable today.
This is the choice we are all given in life. We can stick with what is comfortable or we can risk making an adjustment. It may be uncomfortable. It could even make things worse. But it has the potential to make things so much better.
This why mastering anything is hard. It is a never-ending journey of risking being uncomfortable to breakthrough to a new level.
Be a man of your word. That is old fashion advice that leads to better living. We should honor our word and do what we say we are going to do.
When Coach John Wooden was still early in his coaching career, he thought he had gotten the coaching job offer at the college that he wanted to coach basketball. There was a scheduled call to confirm the job. They didn’t call on time. In the meantime, UCLA called and offered him the job and he verbally committed because he hadn’t heard from the other. It turns out there was a huge snow storm and the phone lines were down so they couldn’t call on time. But they did end up calling later that day to offer him the job. It was the job he wanted. The one he had been waiting for, but he declined. Not because he had signed any contract but simply because he had already given his word to UCLA.
Keep in mind UCLA was not the school it is today. The facility was terrible. It was not the better place to coach, but it was where he committed to. His word was as good as any contract.
Even though it wasn’t what he wanted, he honored his word first. Then he made the best of it. He went on to build one of the best college basketball programs in the country and become one of the greatest coaches of all time.
I’m not sure many people would make the same decision he made today. But I’m not sure many people would have back then either. Coach Wooden serves as a great example to us all.
How good is your word?
Zig Ziglar was one of the most well known motivational speakers. He inspired millions through his simple communication style. There are many of Zig’s quotes that people often share but I think one that he was most famous for.
“You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.” – Zig Ziglar
Like most sound advice, it is easy to say, but more difficult to actually follow. What if the goals and desires of my team don’t match up with mine? What if what I want for them is different than what they want?
We may not actually be that articulate or even voice it, but our selfishness can come in to play. Some people may try to first manipulate people in to what their desires should be so they are aligned.
That is not what Zig meant. He meant we should serve others and help them get what THEY want even when it may not align with what we want for them. Some times we may help people and not get anything tangible from it. Other times we will. I believe he was right. It is a better way to live and a better way to lead. Just help people get what they want. If we help enough people, we will be just fine and we will be happier in the process.
Wouldn’t it be cool to have a time machine? Going back in time to experience the world or be a part of famous historical events would be fascinating, but I’m not even talking about that. What if we could just back to when we were younger? What things would we love to tell ourselves? What mistakes would we tell ourselves to avoid? What opportunities would we tell ourselves to take advantage of?
Wouldn’t we all want a do-over or at least have some sound advice to give ourselves? Unfortunately, we can’t go back to the 20 years younger version of us. That doesn’t mean we can’t still think about it. If you could go back, what advice would you give yourself? It is a worthy question that requires reflection and self-awareness.
Then I think there is another question that we can ask that is a bit more difficult. What about the 20 year older version of yourself? If your 20 year older version had a time machine and could back and give you advice about your life right now, what do you think it would be?
This is a more challenging question, but worth consideration. It has the potential to give us more clarity today.
What advice do you think the future you would give you today?
We can’t go on a road trip with kids without hearing the classic question, “how much longer?” If the trip is any where near an hour or more we will hear it and probably over and over.
We asked the question as kids too because all kids want to get to the destination faster. Waiting is hard. The interesting thing is we grow up, but we still have these same feelings and emotions of wanting to “arrive” sooner. We may not outload in our whiny voice ask the question like we did as kids, but it doesn’t mean we aren’t thinking it.
Only now it isn’t about asking how much longer until we get to the hotel. As adults the questions we ask are more like:
“How much longer until I lose this weight?”
“How much longer until I’m out of debt?”
“How much longer until I can get my new car?”
“How much longer until my business is profitable?”
We all ask these types of questions of ourselves. We can even start asking them in the annoying, whiny voice like when we were kids. That is not a good sign.
All worthwhile things take time. Patience is so important in life. It may be boring. It may not sound like the million dollar solution, but it just might be. Patience is a sign of maturity. Unfortunately, many of us never seem to grow up. We are stuck asking those whiny questions like a 5 year old. We may dress it up to sound more sophisticated but it is the same basic question.
Why does it matter? Because impatience ultimately leads us to make a stupid decision. It leads us to get the car payment we shouldn’t get. It leads us to make the investment gamble we should have never made. It leads us to try the craziest fad diet ultimately causing our weight to yo-yo even more.
The irony in it all is that our impatience ultimately adds times or sometimes keeps us from ever getting there!
With a little more patience, we tend to make wiser decisions that are better for us in the long run.
How patient are you?
Have you ever had someone be very hurtful to you when you didn’t feel you did anything to deserve it?
It can be a total stranger or close friend or even a loved one. More than likely we have all experienced this at some point. Our natural response is to feel anger. We don’t understand how someone can be mean when we didn’t do anything to deserve it. Often this feeling causes us to respond in a similar fashion: with meanness
We all know this only makes the situation worse and has the potential to escalate in a negative way often times killing relationships.
John Maxwell in one of his books teaches a principle that helps us in these situations. He says, “hurting people, hurt people.” Often times when people are hurtful towards us, it is because they are hurting themselves.
This is an important principle for us to remember. It doesn’t mean that we won’t feel hurt when people are hurtful towards us. But it can help us to slow down and have a little empathy. Maybe the person is hurting and we have no idea about it. Maybe that stranger has been dealing with some major stress in their life and filled with pain. We don’t know, but it helps to remember the principle that hurting people hurt people.
Let’s not forget that this applies to us as well. Are we hurting others because we are hurting?
All of us want recognition on some level. I’m not talking about fame, but simply receiving recognition for our achievements.
It is a strong motivator often times even stronger than financial compensation. Recognition is a healthy part of any organization as it drives productivity.
Like most things in life, the need for recognition is a double edge sword. While it can drive productivity, it can also kill it.
Ronald Reagan said it best. “There is no limit to the amount of good you can do if you don’t care who gets the credit.”
Often times our desire to be recognized holds us back. More importantly it can hinder the growth of the business, organization or even ministry. Dealing with people’s egos is tricky. I think that is what Ronald Reagan was talking about.
It is important to ask ourselves what is most important. Would we rather be recognized at all cost or would we rather progress be made? Ronald Reagan certainly received his share of the credit, but he also understood the importance of not letting that get in the way of progress.
We could all benefit from giving more credit away. Not only would it make the organization healthier, but it might even make us healthier in the process.
I am a huge fan of personal assessments that help us better understand ourselves and others. There are personality assessments. There are natural strengths assessments. There are even spiritual assessments to show us how we naturally worship best.
I’ve been labeled so many letters and words that I have to keep up with all natural strengths and personality traits on a spreadsheet! It is fun to learn and I do believe in personal assessments because I believe the more we understand ourselves the better. I’m sure I’ll take more assessments in the future, but there is a downside.
This is never the intent of any assessment, but if we are not careful we can use them as excuses. People do this all the time. It is easy for us to say things like, “that’s just not my strength area” or “that’s just my personality.”
Assessments have nothing to do with success in life. In fact, no one who succeeds at anything will list their personality or natural strength as the reason for their successs, so we should be very cautious of using them as an excuse as well.
I’ve seen some of the greatest sales people who could have said they didn’t have the natural personality type for it. I’ve seen some of the greatest leaders who could have used their natural personality or strengths as a reason not to lead. The bottom line is personal assessments have almost nothing to do with success, but they can help us better understand people which is extremely valuable.
The first step is understanding ourselves which helps us find our unique style. The next step is learning to understand others around us. This can help us have empathy towards others. When we have a better understanding of others natural traits, we can better understand how they may deal with situations differently than we do. It helps us walk in their shoes and maybe give them more grace. This is what assessments should do. They should help us better understand the people around us.
If we aren’t careful, they can have the opposite effect. We can be so self focused that we say “this is who I am” and expect the world to understand us when they don’t. We can use them as excuse not to succeed because that’s exactly what we need is another excuse to justify our failures.
So assessments are great, but use them wisely. Never use them as an excuse. Have more empathy for others because you better understand them.
Assessments may never help us “succeed” but they can make our journey better along the way.
I have worked with and run sales organizations for my entire adult life. There is a question that always comes up. You can’t escape it. It doesn’t matter the industry. The question will always be asked…
“What does the average person do?” or “What does the average person make?”
I’ve heard it so often that it is difficult to patiently give a reply. Why are we so obsessed with average?
The average person is out of shape.
The average person is broke and in debt up to their eye balls.
The average marriage ends in divorce.
The average sales person struggles and eventually quits.
The average new business won’t even exist in 5 years.
Average is a terrible thing to aim for. If average is our plan, we shouldn’t even do it. I would say I’m an average chess player, but chess isn’t that important to me. It is something I do very rarely for fun. It is better than watching TV even if I’m just average. That’s OK. It doesn’t mean much to me.
For anything important, we should avoid average. The better questions are, “Who is succeeding? What are they doing?” Then let’s aim at that. Sure, we may fail. We may not be at their level YET. But we can aim at it. We can measure and improve a little each day. If we do that, we will rise above the average.
For many years if you asked me one of my favorite quotes, I might reply with “Do or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda
I would give that answer partly because I love movies and because I am a huge Star Wars fan. I also love the wisdom in the simple phrase. It addresses the mindset of fully committing to something and burning the bridges leaving no option for failure. Clearly, I still love the advice given by the greatest Jedi Master of them all, but maybe it isn’t right all the time?
What about the person who is sitting on the sidelines scared to get in the game? What about the person who is so concerned that their new product or business idea has to be perfect so they aren’t even taking action?
“Do it” implies that our attempt will succeed. If we don’t think we are “ready” yet, we may wait to do anything. Waiting, procrastinating, fear of failing is what keeps us from making progress. We are never ready. If we wait for the feeling of being ready, we may never act.
Who am I to challenge a Jedi Master? I’m just a normal guy. I can’t use the Force to send objects flying through the air. But I can try.
Maybe that is the right advice sometimes. Let’s just try. What if we don’t succeed? Well, let’s just try it. Let’s take the first step.
Let’s not be scare to try and fail. At least, we started. We should celebrate trying. It is a whole lot better than not trying. Once we are trying and taking action, Yoda’s advice makes sense when we want to master it. We have to fully commit and go beyond trying. But we don’t have to start there.
I have challenged a Jedi Master. I may have failed in my attempt, but at least I tried. I can feel good about that.