Less than a year ago, my son started taking up golf. I had tried years ago to get him to play and to attend some summer golf camps one of our local golf courses offered, but he never really showed an interest in it until just a few months ago. If you know my son, you know that whatever he does, he goes all out. To say he jumps in with both feet would be a bit of an understatement. When he’s in to something, he’s ALL in.
He’s always been driven to practice hard, especially with the sports he loves. Even as a young kid, he’d want to throw the ball as soon as I got home from work. If it was baseball season, we were throwing the baseball. If it were football season, we’d be tossing the pigskin. Many times, we’d get home from his team practice and he would want to practice MORE. And he typically excelled in what he did.
When I say all in, I don’t just mean his commitment to practice, either. He also had to have the “stuff.” He had to not only play the part, but he had to look the part. For baseball, it was the elbow guard and the wrist guard and the stirrup socks with the short pants. For football, he had to have the right visor for his helmet, the right back plate to go with his shoulder pads, and the turf tape for his arms (even when the turf tape was wider than his spindly little arms.) It seemed like there was always something else that we needed for each game or practice.
Now that he’s in golf, he still wants to look the part, but he also continues to practice a LOT. Fortunately, for my pocketbook, he’s old enough to earn some money to help pay for the “stuff” – the irons, the driver, the hybrid, the wedges. Fortunately, too, he’s seen how expensive these things are and has used Facebook Marketplace to work some magic for both our sakes.
This summer, he decided to enter some tournaments to prepare for his high school golf team tryouts. He started playing in what’s called the Prep Tour with the local chapter of the Junior PGA. They only play 9 holes. and we thought it would be some good experience and a good place to start. He started by playing in the last tournament of the Spring. As it got closer to the day of the tournament, we noticed that very few players were signing up. We figured that most kids probably would be playing in the next level up (called the Medalist Tour), and we were right. In fact, he was the only player in his age bracket that played in the tournament that day. It was fairly warm and he had to deal with 40-50 mph winds at his first tournament.
He was paired with 2 other golfers, both in the age bracket below him, but it was good experience. He played fairly well, but I know he was disappointed that he didn’t play better (did I mention he’s also really tough on himself?) Because he was the only player in his bracket, he won first place! In his very first golf tournament. I don’t think he felt like he earned it, and I get it. Some may even liken this situation to a participation trophy, but I don’t think it’s that similar. He earned the medal because no one else dared show up.
Maybe they saw the weather and thought, “Forget it.” Maybe they were just afraid that someone would show up that was better than them, and they didn’t want to be embarrassed. Whatever the reason, it wasn’t my son’s fault that no one showed up and he did.
And think about the ways that sometimes this DOES mimic life.
No one wants to lead that project at work, and you volunteer and that leads to a promotion. WIN.
Nobody wants to head up that committee for the non-profit you’re on and that leads to new business connections. WIN.
No one else runs against you for a city commissioner’s precinct seat and you run unopposed. WIN.
No one wants to email their presentation idea for the “Call to Presenters”, and they accept your proposal. WIN.
Preparation is Key
For all of those things, you have to be prepared. You can’t just waltz into a lot of these situations blindly or unprepared. Just like my son. He’s spent hours working on his golf game. He practices chipping, putting, and his drives. He takes lessons from two golf pros in the area. He goes and plays rounds with his friends. And when he’s not doing all that, he’s watching YouTube videos of guys playing golf (thanks, Good Good golf for helping him!)
In order for those wins above to happen, you have to be prepared for those moments when they come. Maybe you don’t feel like you deserved the win, but why not? You got it because you were prepared. Sometimes only the few are prepared for those moments. People may chalk it up to luck or favoritism, but deep down, you know it’s not that. It’s because when everyone else is watching TV, you’re at home preparing that presentation, or getting involved in city affairs and meetings, or figuring out the best course for a non-profit you’re involved in. It’s because when everyone else is afraid to step out or step up, you know that this is the time where all that extra work and effort is about to pay off.
What are You Waiting For?
If you’re one of those people sitting on the sidelines right now, think of a moment you let pass by because you weren’t prepared (or didn’t feel prepared)? We’re never going to be one-hundred percent sure of the outcome, except when you don’t even get in the game. What’s that famous saying? “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
What do you want to start preparing for so you’re ready when that moment comes? What do you need to do, or practice, or prepare, so that when the next opportunity arises, you will be ready. Maybe it’s not the preparation but the stepping out that is getting in your way. Where can you start small and work your way up? Where can you step out and start pushing back against some of that fear? You don’t have to start out by doing a Ted talk. Start at your local Rotary Club or an organization you know to gain some practice and begin overcoming some of that anxiety.
The thing is, we always win by showing up. When we give one-hundred percent and when we step out on that field and we play the game to our best ability, we never lose. We may not always win what we want, but if we’re aware, we can always learn something by showing up, stepping out, and moving forward. It’s all a journey and a learning experience. You only lose if you never get in the game.