Category: Motivation


Living without Regret

 

After much discussion with my family, friends, employer, and the dean of the business school, I decided to take a leave of absence from graduate school this past semester. I was presented the unique opportunity of helping a close friend manage his business dealings, and attempted to help him prepare for his rookie year on the Nationwide Tour.

Having only 3 classes left before completing my MBA, I initially desired to finish school, before taking on a new challenge. Yet, after unanimous support from those that matter the most to me, I decided to set aside my books for at least the next 8 months and embrace a new opportunity. Needless to say, the past 10 weeks have been a whirlwind and I have received an education in life that no book or course could ever deliver.

Over the past 3 months, I have spent weeks in Reno, San Francisco, San Diego, Pheonix, Bogota (Colombia not N.J.), Panama City, (Panama, not Florida) and Santiago, Chile. I have met a plethora of people I hope to remember, a few I would like to forget, and have memories etched that will last a lifetime.

I have experienced a steep learning curve throughout my business dealings over the past few months and a common theme that keeps arising is the idea of living without regret. Regret is an interesting concept that is often defined as a form of sadness, disappointment, grief, etc. However, all these definitions assume a perspective of victim. As opposed to dwelling on the negative of situations , why not focus on what can be learned from the sad, disappointing (e.g. regret) aspects of a given situation? I strive to live a life without regret, and here are 3 principles that I often find myself revisiting often.

Stay True to Yourself

Circumstances come and go, as do people, but you are always stuck with yourself – there is no escaping you. People always have to live with the decisions they personally make, so be sure to be confident of the decisions you are making and how you are living, regardless of what others may say or think of you.

Prioritize

This is closely related to staying true to yourself. It is important to know what you want out of life and what you are willing to do to accomplish your goals. At times people might find themselves compromising to fit in, or obtain some form of status, only to realize they were living out what others wanted or wanted for them, and were not staying true to themselves and their own goals.

Learn

I am not without a few regrets in my life, but I am sure I would have many more if I had not been humbled to learn and grow from difficult and challenging situations. No person is perfect, and it is our responsibility to grow and learn the challenges in our lives. As George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. We must remember tough situations, but only enough to learn from them.

 

I’ve often heard the saying “Knowledge is power”, and always wondered to myself, ‘Really? What type of power is found in knowledge?’ Is it the power found in a Chevy 350 big block engine found in some of my favorite cars, is it the power to persuade a group of individuals, or is it something entirely different?

To contradict the common belief, knowledge itself, is actually not power. If knowledge was indeed power, than we would see those in academia running the world, or at the very least, running against the likes of Donald Trump for President. Instead they can often be found wearing the same sweater over and over again, as they argue using circular reason, never reaching a finite conclusion. In fact, often times knowledge has the ability to paralyze, as people are not able to function around certain concepts or ideals.

Power then, is actually derived from the process of applying knowledge within a given framework that facilitates change. If no change has taken place, than no new power has been derived or even transferred. This change can be manifest in different forms, (belief systems, functional actions, desires, etc) but without having the knowledge behind the process, there lacks a void that can never be wholly filled.

So what does this have to do with golf? Simple, without a proper knowledge and understanding of the game of golf and what it encompasses, one will never be able to demonstrate the “power” needed to become a good golfer. The power I am referring to is not the ability to hit J.B. Holmes-esque 350 yard drives, but rather the power to change your golf game for the better. There is not one perfect golf swing, or one perfect way to play the game of golf. This often frustrates people, but is also what makes the game so great!

The great golfers of every generation, from Tom Morris to Bobby Jones, from Arnie and Jack to Tiger and Phil , they all had a vast knowledge of the game and used that knowledge to play to the best of their ability.  Not any of the players I mentioned swing remotely the same, but they all are Hall-of-Famers, and they all had the knowledge that allowed them to create a process, which allowed them to play their best golf.

We should all learn something from these great golfers and that is that knowledge, when combined with a process seeking to maximize one’s strengths and minimize one’s weaknesses, is what all great golfers (and leaders) have in common. Seek knowledge, but in a way that facilitates your growth as a person and a golfer!

PhotoCredit

By now, those of you who follow the PGA Tour closely or even watch SportsCenter are aware that Kevin Na made a 16 the hole-nine during the first round of the Valero-Texas Open. That is a story in and of itself worth noting, yet he also had the unfortunate (or fortunate depending on your perspective) circumstance of being mic’d for the Golf Channel’s coverage of round one.

Let me precede the following that I am a huge fan of golf, was definitely impressed with how Kevin Na handled himself yesterday, and I try to look for the best in people. I will also be the first to admit that we all have our bad days and that if we were judged solely on our poorest actions, we would all be left alone to self-destruct.

With that being said, I have not been a fan of Kevin Na for quite some time. Although I have never spoken with him personally, I have been around him on several occasions.  Two specific instances that occurred several years ago, (one when I was playing college golf in Southern California, the other when caddying on the PGA Tour) have caused me to severely question his attitude and relational skills to the public. I understand he must face a tremendous amount of pressure from a variety of sources, but that pressure should not be an excuse for poor behavior (or performance).  He is a famous athlete, children look up to him, and he should do his best to set a proper example for all of his followers.

With that being said, I am impressed with how he handled the debauchery that occurred on the ninth hole yesterday and we can all learn from how he handled a difficult situation.

  1. Laugh at Yourself

When you make a mistake and compound it several times to the point of certain embarrassment, you can either remain angry for an indefinite amount of time, or let it go. A great way to let go is to laugh at the situation and mistake made, relieving the nauseating feeling in your stomach and accepting what just occurred. The quicker you can let the situation go, the quicker you will be able to learn from your mistake and use that knowledge to achieve a greater level of success.

  1. Stick to what got you there in the First Place

If you have achieved any level of success in your current position, you have developed a process over time that has allowed you to reach this success. This process is paramount to your success, and although alterations may be needed along the way, there is no reason to “reinvent the wheel”. Kevin Na is not on the PGA Tour because he commonly smashes drives 350+ yards or hits his driver off the deck. He is on the PGA Tour because of a solid wedge game and deft putting stroke. Had he remembered that, I guarantee you he would have taken a 16 out of the equation!

  1. Finish Strong

Being that Na made 16 on the ninth-hole, he had nine holes to decide how he was going to respond. He could have quit by either walking off or just mentally checked-out, tried his best to play well or landed somewhere in between. Na performed very well on the back-nine as he carded three birdies against zero bogeys. This determination and perseverance will serve him well in the future and is a great example to follow.

I am hoping that what we witnessed on Thursday was a more mature Kevin Na that has learned from his seven years on the PGA Tour. He is on one of the world’s largest stages and has the opportunity to make a tremendously positive impact on lives worldwide. Let’s hope he makes the right decisions on and off the golf course in the future – always keeping his driver and his attitude in check!

Any thoughts, comments, or personal interactions regarding Kevin Na? I’d love to hear them!

PhotoCredit

Life is full of sadness and disappointment, sprinkled in with moments of great joy and jubilation. We all have memories of various events throughout or life that trigger certain emotions. But where do those emotions come from and why are they so prevalent in our way of life?

Everywhere in society today people are expressing themselves in unique ways and children are being taught that if it “feels good”, they should do it. This leads the entire world up to personal interpretation and allows the masses to run their desired course. Expectations are what our emotions are derived from, and our experiences constitute the majority of our expectations.

Take this past weekend at Augusta National. How many people out there dream of playing Augusta just one time in their life, let alone are privileged enough to play for a chance to win the Green Jacket? Many of us would be thoroughly satisfied walking the grounds during a practice round. Yet for others, such as Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and the majority of the field in this past Master’s expected something more out of their trip down Magnolia Lane this past Sunday afternoon.

Expectations are often built upon a combination of past experiences, beliefs, the influence of others, and self-imposed pressure to please yourself and others. Expectations in-and-of themselves are not inherently bad, but our view of expectations and the weight we place on them can have devastating consequences in life. When our perspective on life changes along with our self-value strictly because of expectations, those expectations, are more harmful than anything else.

Expectations can be used as motivation to maximize a person’s ability. BUT, if a person puts their self-worth and value in any expectation and they do not succeed, well then we have a real problem. If they do succeed, then their expectations will increase to a point where they are eventually unachievable, and their world will collapse under the weight of expectation.

There are various levels of success and various levels of expectations. As long as expectations are used as positive, motivating forces to spur someone onto make the most of their ability, then the expectations are helpful. However, once a person is so focused on what is expected of them and nothing else, they often lose sight of the true purpose of their efforts (doing the best they can), and this lack of foresight causes things to quickly unravel.

Like most things in life, an excessive amount of anything does more harm than good, and the same is true for expectations. We must encourage our students, children, family, and community to excel, but not at the cost of self-worth or respect.

If you can keep expectations in check, no matter if you blow a four-shot lead shooting 80 on Sunday afternoon at Augusta National, or never even have the chance to set foot on the grounds, you will maintain yourself worth and character, and in the end, that is how all of us will be remembered.

PhotoCredit

It is often said that there is nothing like the back nine at Augusta National on Sunday afternoon, and this Sunday was no exception. What started out as a probable landmark victory (if there ever was such a notion in golf) for Rory McIlroy quickly turned into one of the most memorable and Masters Tournaments in recent history. In the end, Charl Schwartzel triumphed as the victor with many worthy opponents within striking distance.

With a four-stroke lead to open the round, many believed it was McIlroy’s to lose, and eventually he did lose it. Charl Schwartzel did play a fantastic round of golf, but had McIlroy played the way he had been playing all week, the tournament was well within his grasp. Unfortunately for McIlroy, his grasp quickly slipped, and he allowed a half-dozen other players the opportunity to make claims on the coveted Green Jacket.

There was so much excitement between, Tiger, Adam Scott, Bo Van Pelt, Geoff Ogilvy, and Jayson Day that once the sun had set at Augusta National, I could not help but a bit confused as to what I had just witnessed. What started as a one man show quickly became a sprint to the finish and then boom – just like your first hole in one, it was over before you realized what just happened..

I am genuinely happy for Schwartzel, however I cannot help but feel sorrow for McIlroy. Sure, he has money, fame and all the perks that go with being one of the best golfers in the world, but in the end, he wants to win. Money cannot buy him a Green Jacket – not the one he wants anyway. He had been extremely outspoken about his preparation being tailored directly for the Masters, and the first three days, he showed everyone some amazing golf. Unfortunately, on this fateful Sunday afternoon at Augusta, and the only day that truly matters, he was not able to retain his place atop the leader board.

I was intrigued to see what his response would be after the round, and I believe the way he carried himself after shooting 80 was more impressive than any of the golf he played. He answered the questions with patience, respect, and showed tremendous composure after such an agonizing day.

I’ll remember Schwartzel for winning this Masters, but I will remember McIlroy even more for the composure and class he showed after the round. I hope all of us handle defeat, in whatever area of life this might occur, with such grace and humility. Losing is tragic, but what is even more tragic is not learning and growing from the experience. My hope is that all (including Rory) will be able to use what is learned through defeat to catapult us onward to success in the future.

 

What’s Your Motivation?

In both golf and life, I sometimes find myself lacking a purpose (and focus) on what I exactly wish to accomplish. Growing up we are taught to go to school, work hard to get a good job and then life will be set. Playing golf as a junior, the youth are taught similarly to work hard at your game, earn a college scholarship and then hopefully make a living playing professional golf.

This mentality applies a one-size-fits-all to both education and athletics.  But what if you aren’t interested in simply having a good job or what if you don’t desire (or lack the capability) the strenuous always-on-the-road lifestyle that many professional golfers struggle with? What are people now supposed to do with what they were taught was the ideal approach to life?

Find success in whatever avenue a person pursues in life, often comes down to maintaining motivation. A good friend of mine who had a very successful college career played professionally upon graduation with marginal success. After one year of playing he decided to travel the world and let go of golf. He was gone for nearly a full year, returning home with stories about adventure upon adventure. Throughout our discussion he explained how he lost focus of his goals for playing professional golf, and lacked the driving motivation he needed to pursue a path of success on the golf course. I have no doubt he could make a great living playing golf, but his lack of motivation has caused him to pursue other interests.

In order to succeed long-term in anything, be it academics, athletics, or a career, it is imperative that a person obtain and maintain a high level of motivation. This motivation can be derived from many different sources, but they all must foster the motivation of the individual.

If you are lacking success or even direction in different areas of your life, I strong suggest stepping back and looking at the cause of your actions. If a person can find a reason to be passionate about whatever they are pursing, it will provide a reinforcement of their efforts and make the challenging days easier to bear, and the fruitful day that much more sweet.

Pursue Passions – Maintain Motivation – Secure Success!

PhotoCredit