Life is like golf

How many of you play golf? How many actually like the game? Well, I started playing back in early 2000 and it didn’t take me too long to figure out that every hole in golf is like a day in our lives.

When you play golf, you take every hole one at a time. Each hole provides different challenges and different rewards. Every day in our lives is much like that too.

Think about when you wake up in the morning or even before you go to bed the night before. You think about the day ahead of you. When do I need to be to work, what meetings are planned, what do I need to get done, etc? Golf is the same–you depart the last green and you start to think about the next hole you will play. What is par for the hole, what club will I start with, what hazards will I need to avoid, etc?

How a professional approaches the game of golf and how you approach you day can have a direct correlation. A pro learns the course before competition and then develops a plan to deal with the course each of the four days he will play it in a tournament. Pros know which are the easy and hard holes that they will have to deal with every day. The pros also examine how something like weather conditions can change the course each day. Planning out how you will deal with future days before they happen is pretty much the same.

The hole you play is much like the day you’re having–you have a plan, but sometimes things don’t work like you plan them, right? In golf, how well you hit the ball, wind conditions, and even humidity can affect the perfectly planned golf shot. What you planned to be a hole in one turned out to end up is a hazard–the unexpected.

It’s really not how we play the perfect game of golf–the one that is perfectly planned and happens exactly as expected. It is how we respond to the hazards that crop up in our day when we least expect them. Do we adjust our stance, accept the bogey lay up, and play through; or do we refuse to recognize the hazard and try to make our original plan happen even when it’s not feasible to achieve?

The biggest thing is that how you play every hole on the golf course is like every day in your life. Yes, you might have trouble on one hole, but if you can put that behind you, you can move forward and succeed in the game. Life is the same–do you focus on past mistakes and past challenges, or do you continue to strive to achieve greatness that you originally envisioned in your plan?

Without risk, there is seldom reward. Most of the time we play the same golf course all the time. When we start out playing, we believe that we can make the green in one stroke and putt in for birdie. However, experience on the course reins in our expectations and after a while we become happy with a double bogey on the hole. We have let our past experiences hold us back from going for the green in one every time–we learn to play it safe and stay out of trouble (and stay off of other’s people’s radar).

Like him or not, Tiger Woods has always been a risk taker. He is an exciting player to watch because with every shot, he believes he can do more so he tries it. He pushes himself and when Tiger messes up, he usually does so on a grand scale. Do you push yourself everyday or are you content with a 100 game?

Everyday we are faced with a choice in life, do I go for the green or do I lay up for a safer second shot? The things that the pros do is practice getting better at the game and this they reduce the chance in their shots and become more accurate. This is something we can do in life as well. Have you stopped going to school or is there some work-related training you can take that would improve your day-to-day ability. Do you jump at the opportunity to play another course–one that you are not familiar with, or do you remain content (and stagnant) with the same old par three course you have learned very well. Even if a new course isn’t available to you, how well do you know the one you play every day and do you constantly try to improve your game on the same course every day?

So, regardless if you love the game or never played, take today to look at your day and the days in the future to plan out your game. Look for the opportunities to go for it and try a few risks on your same old course. Up your game with new equipment and training that allows you to play better over time. Practice at being better. And most of all, seek out the opportunity to play on new courses whenever possible, even if it’s one day.

Today is your day to challenge yourself to play better.

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About johnrknotts
John Knotts is a results-oriented business professional leader, manager, and supervisor with experience from the military, small business, several nonprofits, and is currently a management consultant. Working out of the San Antonio, Texas, he retired from the Air Force in July 2008 and worked with Booz Allen Hamilton from the end of October 2008 to December 2011. Now he is a Strategic Business Adviser with USAA. John leads large and small strategic transformations and has extensive experience in the areas of change management, strategic planning, process improvement, strategic communication and marketing, strategic human capital and resource management, education and training, facilitation, organizational design and development, modeling and simulation, financial and budget analysis, activity based costing and management, quality management, competitive sourcing and privatization, leadership development, and business development.

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