This weekend I played disc golf for the first time. Two of my sons have played it for years and have collected quite an assortment of discs designed for specific throws and distances. They have invited me many times to join them, but I have declined for one reason or another. This weekend, however, I had no excuses and I was willing to give it a try.
I enjoyed disc golf so much I agreed to play again with one of my sons early on Sunday morning before church service when others refused. After two times, I am definitely a fan. Please don’t think that I love the game because I am a natural at it. To the contrary, my performance was dismal. I scored way over par. I also looked comical as the lone matronly figure among athletic young men.
To me disc golf is fun, because it is an activity with simple, clear rules. It is done in a pleasant outdoor setting, and it provides a positive challenge. While walking the course with my son in the beautiful sunshine and refreshing breeze, I realized I could apply some life principles to my new interest of disc golf.
Find a mentor. Mentors pass on what they know. They offer perspective on what is good and how to improve. Before this weekend, I knew nothing about disc golf. After just two times of play, I have learned a little about technique and strategy. While I might have been able to figure it out on my own (highly doubtful in my case), I gleaned from the experience of others. I was able to put their suggestions into practice.
Set realistic goals. When first starting out, set short term goals that can be accomplished easily. It is encouraging to meet a goal quickly, and it builds motivation to pursue long range goals. My long range goal is to be able to score par. However, it currently takes me several throws to get my disc close enough to the basket to putt. Instead of focusing on the basket, I set a goal of getting the disc to an intermediate location (the trees at the half way mark). Once I made it there, my next goal was the basket. This method eliminated discouragement and frustration.
Celebrate progress. When achieving a goal, take time to savor the moment and reflect on what got you there. Don’t rush off to the next achievement. Score keeping is a handy tool for reflection. After each basket I thought about how many throws it took, what each throw was like, and then looked over the course that I completed before advancing to the next pole hole.
Avoid comparisons. Looking at the ability of others is a sure way to lose incentive. While we may be in a position of competition, true progress must be measured in terms of our own personal growth. My son, Jason, has sheer power and can drive his disc close to the basket. My son, Joseph, demonstrates grace as he releases his disc to glide effortless through the air to its destination. If I compared myself to them, this fumbling, clumsy beginner would have quit within the first five minutes of the game. Instead I work on improving my own technique, striving to drive the disc a little farther and developing greater control.
Enjoy the learning process. It is important to resist the tyranny of perfectionism. The desire to be perfect creates an inability to be flexible and teachable. Rather than laughing at and learning from mistakes, it cripples us from growing and moving forward. As a young woman and avid tennis player, I used to get so enraged at myself for poorly executed strategy that I would throw my racquet in a fit of rage. Decades later, my response to disc golf was pleasantly remarkable. I made plenty of errors. At times it seemed like my mind and body were disconnected. My mind would think one thing and my body would do it entirely different. Nevertheless, I made adjustments, was willing to experiment with drives and approaches, and had a lot of fun.
Of the principles mentioned above, which ones do you need to adopt to help you thrive in life and leadership?
Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you.
Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding (Proverbs 4:6-7, NIV).
As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend (Proverbs 27:17, NLT).
Heavenly Father, be the center of my life today. Teach me how to grow in wisdom and abilities. so that I may thrive in my vocation and relationships. Help me keep my focus on You, the author and finisher of faith, and to glorify You in all things. In Jesus’ name.