But when I play, I still practice hard and focus on my game. – Bernhard Langer, Winner
I was enjoying a round of golf a few days ago, courtesy of the Golf Channel. Had I been actually golfing, enjoyment would have been at a minimum, pain and suffering at a maximum (for all involved, just ask those I’ve maimed and bludgeoned on miniature golf courses). One of my favorite golfers, Bernhard Langer, was doing something he’s very familiar with… winning.
No pain and suffering with Mr. Langer – just pure, beautiful golf.
His flawless swing isn’t the only reason I’ve always been such a fan of this brilliant German golfer. He’s a class act. He’s a winner. He doesn’t seem to have a malicious, proud, or arrogant bone in his body. He has worked hard to get where he is and is a perfect example that, with all due respect, good guys very often DO finish first.
My husband, Michael, is another guy who fits the descriptions above – except for the flawless swing part – I wipe the miniature golf course up with him (it’s my story). Michael often looks at certain athletes, politicians, or athletes and says whether or not he thinks they’d be a good “dinner companion” or fun to play a round of golf with. If you ask me, Mr. Langer would be such a person.
As I was reaping the feel-good benefits of watching a favorite athlete win (as a Denver Broncos fan, I’d lost touch with these jollies), the announcers said something that made me shift from sport spectator Joi to Self Help Blog Joi. They were talking about how much time Bernhard Langer puts into practicing his game. One of the announcers said that Bernhard doesn’t just try to improve each year or week, he tries to improve with each swing.
That really struck me as a fundamental truth in self improvement and self growth. You could make a case for it being THE fundamental truth.
If, like Bernhard Langer, we want to win on a consistent basis – in whatever field or area we “compete” in – we have to work on improving each move we make, each word we say, each thought we entertain, and each activity we take part in. We can’t just look at the big picture at the end of the journey, we have to look carefully at each step along the way.
Here’s an example, and, sadly, like many of my examples, it involves your’s truly learning her lesson the hard way. Sigh.
As you may know, our oldest daughter, beautiful Emily (more like gorgeous, but I want to keep her grounded) , was married last October. She gave me plenty of notice about the upcoming nuptials. In fact, she gave me nearly 12 months notice.
Like all mothers of the bride, I decided that I simply HAD to be a particular size before the wedding. While my present size could serve me well enough for day to day life, it was NOWHERE good enough for my baby’s big day! During the many months leading up to the wedding, we had a ball – the funnest part was watching the bride-to-be begin to come unglued. The girl is the calmest, most in control, level-headed person in the world. The only one in her vicinity is her dad. But as the big day approached, she became as scatter-brained and punchy as her other parent. Sometimes she’d just laugh out loud, seemingly at a joke only she heard. I thought, Finally! There’s my DNA!
Through it all, I kept looking at the big day – it was my “vision board,” I suppose. I pictured the cake, the aisle runner, the bride in her breathtakingly beautiful dress (how must it feel to have a waist that Shaquille O’Neal could put his hand around?), the centerpieces, and me in the dress size of my dreams. Ah, it’d be Nirvana. Nirvana covered in Calla Lilies.
With the decorations and other planning, we looked, not just at the end result, but at each step. THESE calla lilies will look elegant with THAT lace…. THIS ribbon will compliment THAT arrangement, etc. I’m not sure how my husband or son-in-law kept their sanity. Little existed for the females in our family during those months that weren’t covered in white lace and satin.
Meticulous. We were meticulous. Except for the one area where I dropped the ball. Fortunately, it was a ball that only affected me, so I dropped it on my own foot.
The entire time, I just looked at the final picture – the mother of the bride in the dress size of her dreams. How great it’d feel to be THAT size. My only concern was that I’d be so proud I’d pluck the label out to show off the number. Suffice to say, it was a temptation I never had to face down.
I didn’t reach the number and, looking back, I clearly see why. I didn’t look at each step along the way. I also didn’t look at each Latte, each doughnut, each fried catfish fillet, or each time I thought walking leisurely was funner than jogging. You tell me, how can you talk about cake toppings when you’re huffing, panting, and trying to remember how to inhale?!?
When the announcers pointed out that Bernhard Langer worked to improve his game with each swing, it brought it all home. If, each day I had worked on physical fitness with each decision, I’d have probably worn the same size my daughter wore. I should, of course, make a point of saying this: The day was sheer perfection and I wouldn’t have changed a thing. My dress was one of the prettiest dresses I’ve ever seen and I’m not sure it was even available in the elusive size! So, all’s well that end’s beautifully, but I did learn a lesson.
It’s a lesson for all of us, isn’t it? Whatever our goal is (whether it’s domination of our field, an elusive number, a Ford Edge, or a bulldog puppy), we have to work for it with each decision we make and each thought we entertain.
It’s the difference between carrying away the trophy and carrying away regrets.
Bernhard Langer Quotes:
So when I was told to work, ten, twelve hours a day as an assistant pro, I didn’t complain. It was normal.
I like reading my bible, I like bible studies where I get together with others and talk about the word of God and how it relates to us and how we can change to become more like him.