In the United States Golf Association’s “Rules of Golf,” Rule 13 is referred to as “Ball Played as it Lies.” The rule prohibits improving the lie, the area intended for making a swing, the line of play, or area in which the ball is to be dropped or placed. In general, a golf ball should be played where it lands without any change to the overall situation.
As a new golfer in my second summer on the course, I have noted that you can find yourself in some really tough lies. Hit for the fairway on what “should be” an “easy” shot and you often find yourself searching for the tiny little speck of white in a wooded area laden with pine needles and dead leaves, or a muddy bog next to a pond with tall, unyielding reeds. As you feel the rush of negative emotion that begins with inner talk like, “I just can’t get off the tee,” or “I always blow this hole,” you have a choice. You can let that head trash get the best of you, or make a conscious effort to relocate your golf zen.
If you choose to keep emotion in check, it not only improves your outlook on the day, it also improves your game. Golf ain’t for sissies. You have to negotiate the setbacks. Once you lose your ____t, (rhymes with bit)…you start saying more of the wrong things to yourself. Pretty soon, you’re ready to quit the game. For the 47th time.
When the professional golfers hit a bad shot, you know they’ve gotta be feeling really bad. After all, they’re screwing up in front of a gallery of onlookers and TV cameras. They don’t just have to battle down their own head trash. They’re going home to watch the rerun of the broadcast in which the ubiquitous Jim Nance will wax negative about it, too.
I think of senior leaders like professional golfers. Bad shots happen. You get paid to play it as it lies. If you allow emotion to overrun you when things go awry, it will cloud your judgment, make you rush, choose the wrong club, or hit it too hard, and ruin your next shot, in a game of nuance and inches.
You are a human being with feelings just like anyone else. It would be foolish to imagine you wouldn’t feel frustration or anger when your project or plan goes off course. It’s what you do with those feelings that puts you in the big leagues. It’s what happens on the next shot that matters most. As a seasoned leader, you’ve hit around trees and out of bogs before. You can do it again. Breathe.