02 Sep SOFT HANDS
Moss Jackson, PhD
Psychologist and Success Coach
Today I am playing in a golf tournament here in Brigantine. Let’s get something straight: I am not a very good golfer. In fact, I am what one would call a “duffer,” a guy who once in a while can hit a decent shot, but more often is scrambling and loses more balls than you can count. But I love the game, the beauty of the golf course and the company I keep.
I think golf has something to teach us about living life well. In golf, the idea is to hold the club with “soft hands” a grip that lets the club know you are in touch with it but not so tight that you are strangling it. Too often, a golfer gets tense about his shot, especially if others are looking on and then proceeds to grab the club as if he were in a death battle with an adversary. The result is a terrible shot, self-annoyance and the conclusion that you suck at the game. This gets repeated over and over again for eighteen holes with each shot serving as an invitation to redeem yourself by smashing the ball a long distance.
Life can be like golf. We hold too tight, trying to control everything and not trusting the invitation to take an easy swing with our experiences. When we try too hard to force a result, we often mess up and create frustration, annoyance and even disgust toward others or ourselves. Rather than engaging life with what Carol Dweck calls a “Growth Mindset,” an attitude of learning, curiosity and gradual improvement, we instead grab onto the club of life with a “Fixed Mindset,” an approach characterized by perfectionism, looking good, competition with others and a win/lose attachment to the result.
In a way, golf is a ridiculous game where you hit the ball over and over again trying to make it disappear into a hole. And you continue to do this for eighteen holes. It is an Existential game you cannot beat! It makes no sense to grab your golf club in a stranglehold. Why not engage it with “soft hands,” swing easy, learn from the shot and enjoy the experience?
And, while you are at it, why not play the game of Life the same way, engaging each experience with a sense of curiosity, humor, compassion and ease. After all, you will be replaying each day over and over again so why not take a deep breath and enjoy each round of life with a playful mindset?
Anyway, I am now off to play in the tournament with my old friend Derrick and two new friends Jay and Marni. Hopefully, I will play and hold the club with soft hands, hit a few good shots and not lose too many balls. Hopefully, I will bring a growth mindset and try not to lose my mind to taking the game too seriously.
Enjoy your own Game today!
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