Hole 15. Jeremy McBee has a short pitching wedge into the green to have a chance for par. He’s trying to break 100 after a tough round on a course he’s never played before. He brings his club back to about 50% and follows through his swing to 50%. Just as Jeremy is about to strike the ball his eyes look up in anticipation of where the ball will land. He hits the shot “fat” and the ball lands a few yards short of the green and falls off the front slope of the green leaving him a nearly zero percent chance of making par and realistically breaking 100. How should Jeremy react in this situation?
A) Throw his club, scream in frustration, be pissed off for the rest of the day.
B) Break his club over his leg and quit playing.
C) Buy another round from the beverage cart and drown his sorrows in alcohol.
D) Accept the outcome. Understand mistakes happen. Try to learn from the mistakes made without casting unnecessary blame on himself. Smile and finish the round laughing at himself, enjoying nature, and the company he is with for the day.
If you answered A through C, you probably have golfed once or twice in your life. It is very, very difficult to respond in the manner that option D is proposing. More times than not, golf will get the best of you emotionally. Learning to accept your mistakes and learn from them is one of the hardest things to do.
I used golf as an example because I believe it can serve as a pretty strong analogy to life. There are always obstacles waiting for us in life, but how we handle the space “between our ears”, the better we’ll be able to navigate through those obstacles. The better you learn how to calm your emotions and quiet your mind when you’re in a fairway bunker and needing to hit the ball on to the green, the better golfer you’re going to become. The better you learn how to calm your emotions and quiet your mind when someone is being an asshole to you, the better you’ll become at crisis management, diffusing a situation. One important thing, too, to always remember is that you must not compare yourself to others when learning new things or trying to progress. Some people will pick things up quicker than you. This is where you must be patient and focus on the process of improvement. Clear the mechanism, practice, practice, practice, and keep the faith. Eventually, you’ll lift your head up from all of the work you’ve put in, look around you and realize you are a master at your craft while others have fallen by the wayside. Dedication and perseverance work like magic in achieving your goals because they are hard friends to keep. They won’t sugar-coat anything!
I grew up playing many sports. Springs and summers were spent playing golf and a lot of baseball. Fall was baseball and winter was basketball. Track was in the mix for myself for a while, as well, during middle school. I was always busy running around to practice after practice or doubleheaders on the weekend. I learned quickly from all of this time playing sports that mistakes happen a lot. It’s all about how you approach those mistakes. You miss a ground ball at shortstop in practice? Maybe you should ask your coach or another player to stick around for 15 minutes after practice and work on keeping your head down and watching the ball into your glove. Maybe you should also not beat yourself up for missing that ground ball, though, too. The only way to progress is to notice where you are struggling and then just dedicate more time to improving that area of weakness, while not casting blame on yourself. The most successful people in every industry strikeout a lot along their way to becoming masterminds. Looking at mistakes as opportunities opens up a world of possibility for growth and ultimate competency.
I look at cooking and music in very similar ways. It’s easy to get let down and be frustrated when a song that you dedicate a month to just continues to not make any sense. It’s easy to want to rip up the lyrics or chords sheet and throw a temper tantrum because you felt like you’ve wasted so much precious time on this song that is ultimately a failure in your eyes. What would the better approach be to this situation? I think being able to step back and look for the pros and cons of whatever you’re working on can be a good strategy. Take stock in what is working and what is not. Recognize a pattern in what is not working. Maybe this is something that trips me up a lot. Maybe I should really work on doing less of that or none of that at all and more of what is working for me in these songs.
Scott Adams, famous Dilbert cartoonist and author, talks a lot about this. He often discusses the importance of A/B testing almost everything that you do. He’s right because it typically works. First figure out where your strong points and weak points are. Try testing out different processes. Add more of whatever you’re doing that works, eliminate your weak points and substitute something new as a replacement. Test out different ideas until you find one that works. Don’t be afraid to get creative or think outside of the box. It’s the only way you’ll be able to truly understand what your “bread and butter” is and where your “magic sauce” lies.
Start looking at mistakes as your friend. They are there to help you because on the other side of frustration and disapointment is an opportunity to grow. So go out there and fail, fail, fail, baby because it’s only going to bring you closer to your successes! Best of luck out there, friends!