The real value of the game… is in the walk.
A few years ago, I came across a book entitled, “Golf in the Kingdom.” It talks about a man who went to Scotland to learn the game of golf from one of the great pros in the world.
Unexpectedly, the man learns more about the game of life than he does the game of golf. The pro tells him that the greatest crime in golf… is the cart. He says the game is not about hitting the ball or getting from hole to hole as fast as possible. He says the real value of the game… is in the walk. It’s all about absorbing the experience.
Well I’m not a golfer, but I wondered… if I were a golfer, would I be riding the cart or walking the course? That’s easy. I would be riding the cart… the fastest one I could find.
At least I used to be that way… until I realized there was a better way to live. And that better way involved only four simple steps. I realized I had to slow down, reflect, do it, and give. Perhaps these steps will help you in your quest for more balance and less stress.
=> 1. Slow down.
One of my biggest struggles used to be speed. I’ve always been the exact opposite of the couch potato. I’ve been driven all my life to see it all and do it all.
It could have been as simple as a small town art show, a huge state fair, or an antique mall with 1000 dealers. As soon as I walked on the premises, I immediately sketched out a plan in my head. I figured out how my wife and I could see it all and do it all. And if time was running out, if they were about to close, I’d tell my wife how we could hit one or two more exhibits if we really hurried. I couldn’t stand to miss anything.
Then one day it hit me that I was being rather naive if not stupid. My speedy approach gave me a “taste” of life and a lot of stress… a far cry from “absorbing the experience.” I began to realize that anything worth doing was worth doing well.
What about you? Are you racing through life… from one activity to another? Do you feel more like a human do-ing than a human be-ing? If so, then you need to consider my second step.
=> 2. Reflect.
As author and former priest Earnie Larsen asks, “How much is enough?” Larsen says it’s one of the most important questions you can ever ask… if you want a quality life and a meaningful career.
Instead of racing from one thing to another, stop and reflect once in a while. How much is enough?
Before I reflected on this question, I used to fool myself… thinking I could actually get everything done. I used to think once I completed all my work for my clients, fixed everything around the house, and did all the chores for the various members of my family, I could sit back and relax.
But no matter how much I did or how hard I worked, I found out there was always more to do. There was never any time to relax, and if I took time to relax, I’d feel guilty for not doing something.
Ever feel that way? I’m sure you do. Then you have to ask yourself that same old question, “How much is enough?” Are you walking the course or riding the cart? Are you going from hole to hole as fast as possible?
If so, you’re missing out on the reflective time you need. It’s absolutely critical to set aside some reflective time to focus on where you are, where you have traveled, and where you want to be in the years ahead. It’s a spiritual necessity.
Without reflective time, you’ll charge through life and charge through your career. You may make it to the “top,” but at some point, you’ll look back and wonder whether the trip was worth the price. You may even find that you’ve climbed the ladder of success, but the ladder was propped against the wrong wall.
And once you’ve taken time to reflect, you need to…
=> 3. Do it.
In other words, once you’ve taken time to reflect and figure out what’s most important, you’ve got to do it. After all, good intentions… not acted upon… do nothing but give you more stress.
And yet, I hear so many people say something like, “I was going to… I know I should have… or… I just never got around to it.” Some people have good intentions — but their follow-through leaves a lot to be desired.
Other people act on their good intentions or do their good deeds AFTER they’ve been through a lot of pain. In fact, I’ve gotten dozens of e-mails from people saying my book on “PIVOT: How One Turn In Attitude Can Lead To Success” would have helped them achieve their goals years before — but they read the book AFTER they had struggled for years.
And I’ve gotten dozens of other e-mails from people saying my book on “Brave Questions: Building Stronger Relationships By Asking All The Right Questions” would have saved their marriage or built their team — but they read it AFTER their marriage fell apart or AFTER their team had disbanded.
Of course, it’s good that those people did something… But what a needless shame to have them waste so much time, money, and energy… to carry out their good intentions long AFTER they should have followed through on them.
I challenge you to act like a postage stamp. As one person said, “The only usefulness of a postage stamp is in its ability to stick to one thing until it is completed.”
And as you follow this third step, to do it, don’t forget the fourth step, and that is…
=> 4. Give.
When you slow down a bit, when you reflect on all the things that are worth doing, and then do them, don’t forget to give something to others.
Remember what mama said when you were growing up? Do your good deed for the day. How sweet! How nice! But as an adult, you may think that advice is naive at best.
I’m here to tell you it isn’t naive. We’re living in a time of incredible materialism and selfishness. And we’re living in a time where the courts are filled with lawsuits and the streets are filled with demonstrators all wanting more for me-me-me. It’s all about what I want — with little regard to others.
Such selfishness does not present a pretty picture. And it does not lead to a quality life.
By contrast, Martin Luther King, Jr. taught us, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?”
One of the most profound things you can do for others is to build their self-esteem. Everyone wants to feel important, valuable, and worthwhile. Everyone wants to be a somebody.
And one of the simplest ways you can do that is through your expressions of appreciation. Say “Thanks” for everything that person does for you… large or small.
Take a lesson from the little 10-year old boy who expressed his thanks several years ago. He entered a hotel coffee shop and sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in front of him.
“How much is an ice cream sundae?” the boy asked. “Fifty cents,” replied the waitress.
The little boy pulled his hand out of his pocket and studied his coins. “How much is a dish of plain ice cream?” he inquired.
Some people were now waiting for a table and the waitress was a bit impatient. “Thirty-five cents,” she said brusquely.
The little boy again counted the coins. “I’ll have the plain ice cream,” he said. The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on the table and walked away.
The boy finished the ice cream, paid the cashier, and departed. When the waitress came back, she began wiping down the table and then swallowed hard at what she saw. There, placed neatly beside the empty dish, were two nickels and five pennies — her tip. He remembered to express his thanks.
Action: You can do the same thing. Be on the look out for places you can give honest, genuine, sincere, heart-felt praise and approval.
Research shows, for example, when children are praised by the people that they look up to, their energy levels rise, their heart and respiratory rates increase, and they feel happier about themselves overall.
The same thing happens to your team members and customers when you praise them. Now go out and do it.