Do you ever get frustrated when you can’t figure something out right away? As a parent of four children I have had many situations where a child doesn’t get something right the first time and they’re tempted to give up. Wow, did you really expect to hit a home run on the first pitch of the game? Did you think you’d get a 100% on that test that you didn’t study for? Unfortunately, I think as humans we all want to do well, and sometimes we don’t want to put in the effort required. The path of least resistance is a well-traveled road.
Last year I started playing golf a little more regularly. As my kids remind me, this is an “old man’s” game. I disagree, but I digress. Golf seems to be a never-ending challenge filled with hope that you can get better if you play more, use the right balls, get a new set of clubs, make sure the weather is perfect, and on and on. The thing about golf is that no matter how well you score, you can always score better. If only I didn’t 3 putt there, or if I had not lost my ball in the pond and had that penalty stroke…that “what ifs” can go on forever. I hate 3 putts.
So how should we respond when we don’t get it right the first time? Or we aren’t as great as we want to be at something? Do we give up or do we press on?
Whenever my kids start to complain or say “I can’t”, I always ask them, “How do you get better at something?” And by now they’ve all learned the answer. “Practice”, they say as they mope and slowly walk away. Well, at least they’re learning. As adults we should know that this makes sense. If you want to be good at something, or learn a new skill, then it takes practice. Some would say practice makes perfect, but then some would say “perfect practice makes perfect”. Either way, practice, and patience, are required if we want to get better.
Practice is for more than just sports. Practice is important for relationships too. You want to have a good marriage, a solid relationship with your parents or siblings…that takes practice as well. Just don’t assume you can walk up and hit a home run in life without practice.
On that note, I’m headed to the driving range. I need to work on that hook. I think maybe I just need a new driver, and a new golf glove, and maybe some…ah never mind, I just need to practice.
“It takes time to create excellence. If it could be done quickly, more people would do it.”
- Coach John Wooden