I read a blog post by a young lady, Marina Keegan, who graduated from Yale this spring. Here is a link to it.
I have since reread it a few times. There are quite a few things that strike me about this blog, both for how I look at life and also how I mentor young people.
First, she describes her circle at Yale as "the opposite of loneliness". That is how I feel about my golf circles, including my players, former players, fellow coaches, my friends who teach golf and my friends who play, no matter what they shoot. I know this isn't the same for everyone. Many of us feel as though competition prevents us from reaching out and sharing with fellow coaches. Players feel as though they can't trust fellow players. Teachers feel as though coaches "screw up" players and coaches often view teachers with the same eyes. How we view our journey through this world is important to our circles. Our circles will grow and be strong if we remember that in all competition, there is cooperation. In all learning, there is communication and mentoring. In all growth, there is pain. In all of our hearts is a desire to connect, not isolate ourselves. At least, that is how I see it.
The timing of this blog post came about a day before a young tour player wrote this tweet:
"Golf can be the loneliest time ever." It seems like whatever our endeavor, we can feel incredibly lonely. The opposite seems to be the feeling of belonging. On bad days on the course, it is easy to question if you belong or not. On good days, thoughts like that never enter your head. We need to have a circle we can rely on to help us through those bad days and make us feel like we belong in the community of golf.
Another important point in the blog and one that I would love all young players and their parents to think about is the point that Miss Keegan makes about how we view where we are in the process of life. She says, "....-that it is somehow too late. That others are somehow ahead. More accomplished, more specialized.....That it is too late now to BEGIN a beginning and we must settle for continuance or commencement."
The wisdom in this idea lies in the ability to live your life without comparisons. Either to others around you or to your "perfect fantasies of our future selves" as Miss Keegan put it. I have met so many people who never have "enough". If you play golf in college, is that enough? If you make the All Conference team, is that enough? If you make All American, is that enough? If you earn a chance to play on the LPGA, is that enough? If you make the Solheim Cup team, is that enough? If you win a Major, is that enough? My point here is that we have to understand the process of our lives and value the journey. If we do manage to achieve something along the way, such as a spot on a collegiate team, we should make sure to appreciate it and then work hard for the next step of getting a spot in the lineup.
So many people put a value on only the final achievement. Many of my close friends in coaching have lost their jobs because of bosses or parents who only judge worth by end result. These are coaches who took their role seriously and mentored, coached, taught and pushed the young people in their charge. They had a positive effect on many young people, but it wasn't enough. There is something to be said for contentment in balance with achievement.
Finally, the saddest line written by Miss Keegan was this: "We have so much time." She died in a tragic car accident only five days after graduation. She didn't have the time she was looking forward to following graduation. Nothing is as unfair as the death of a young person. But that unfairness is the biggest lesson of all. We all have our own special gifts to use to live our lives. It is up to us to use our gifts to do whatever is possible. Feeling like a victim won't cut it. Relying on excuses won't help. Action of any kind will probably be a better answer than inaction. We all walk the tightrope of fun versus responsibility. Your balance will be more easily maintained if it is you who chooses the goal at the far end.