06 Sep No One Knows How You Should Play the Game of Life
You Deserve a To Live An extraordinary Long Life of Success, Accomplishment and Satisfaction!
” What I’m talkin’ about is a game… A game that can’t be won only played…”
–The Legend of Bagger Vance
Today was a special day. We were inundated with weather reports of hurricane winds, torrential rains and flooding at the shore, but nothing much happened. The sun stayed out and the storm veered East, heading further out to sea.
Judy and I left our Brigantine house on Friday and were settled back in Newtown Square for the weekend. Today was sunny, there was a slight breeze in the air that carried a trace of early fall-morning coolness.
Although we went through most of the day at a relaxed pace, I became a bit frustrated when I could not send a short video about my new book to my agent. Realizing that I needed a break, I went to play some golf. Unfortunately, my friend and golf buddy Jeff DeLone was out of town, as was my cousin Jason. So I decided to go play nine holes on my own at The Old Masters Course in Edgemont. The course is fairly run down and short in its overall distance, but it is demanding in terms of accuracy. During my play, I lost six balls but found seven, making the lost and found portion of the day a win! Some shots were good, while most were average. I was concentrating on implementing what I had learned in a golf lesson two weeks ago from Joe, an excellent and patient golf pro.
I enjoyed practicing an easy and full swing. While I made decent contact with the ball, I knew that something was missing and some future lessons were in order. So I just settled in to playing a round of easy golf and not keeping score. I played to enjoy the day and not conquer the course! Golf is an interesting game in that “easy-does-it” often works better than trying too hard. It is certainly a game to be played, not won. For me, the game is actually more about maintaining focus and learning to recover after a poor shot; it is necessary to regain your composure in order to keep the ball in play. No great heroics like the pros. While you might play well one day, the next day you may find yourself hitting the ball all over the place and getting frustrated.
Life reminds me of golf: it too is a game to be played and not won. In fact, there isn’t even anything to win, you already won life by being born! I am reminded of an article I recently read about Steve Job’s last comments before he died. He was reflecting on how much money he made and all his success but, as he lay dying, that meant very little to him. Instead he spoke about what he had missed in terms of love, friendship and time with family. He had focused on winning and, in his final moments, he regretted missing out on the playing, and the little things along the way.
I believe that a healthy balance of success, accomplishment and personal satisfaction is important for living a happy and fulfilled life. If you focus too heavily on success and accomplishment, you risk becoming a rigid workaholic. If instead, you focus too much attention on just having a good time, you may not accomplish anything you feel proud of. Like in the story of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” life should not be too hot or cold. It should be just right! The meaning of “just right” is not up to others to decide, it is your choice.
To navigate your life well requires some passion: deciding what is important, pursuing your dream and being resilient. I write about this in my book “Navigating For Success.” Your life is too important to trust anyone else to choose your life path for you. After I graduated college, I asked my mother what she thought I should do. I was somewhat unsure of my life path and she was someone I trusted. Mom had grown up during the Depression in a family of eleven children and no father present. She was poor and she and her family had to struggle to survive. Mom smiled and said she had also been thinking about my future and expressed pleasure in my asking her input on this important question. Without batting an eye, she said “The Post Office” of course. Apparently, at the Post Office once you were hired, they never would fire you and you would have a job for life. She then said, “Besides, you can always retire at age forty, take your pension and then do what you wanted.”
In was in this moment that I realized that she had no idea what I wanted to do! She had come from a long history of financial hardship and insecurity. For her the Post Office represented security and safety. For me, it seemed like a prison of predictability, boredom and a cage for my creativity. As a twenty-one year old, I wanted my life to be full of adventure, creativity and challenge.
No one knows your destiny. There is no real safety. We are all at risk playing the game of life. I love being a Psychologist and Success Coach because I get to work with so many different people traveling different life paths. What is good for one person may be terrible for another. For some, the “Post Office” life is ideal, while for another working at an organic vegetarian farm in Oregon is the right choice. My job is to help them to discover their personal passions and to chart their pathway to success, accomplishment and satisfaction. This is the art of Life Navigation.
While we all may fail along the way, that is all part of the game of life. You learn from the experience, practice resilience and give it another shot, learning constantly along the way. Remember, life is not something to win; it is something to be played. So grab your club and give life a shot!