Regardless of Cesar Millan, the point of my previous post was that reflecting on Riley’s behavior has caused me to reflect on my own. I am becoming more aware of my body language, my attitude, my tone of voice. I still have a long way to go (as does Riley) but I think this heightened mindfulness can only be a good thing.
Case in point:
On Sunday, Andy arranged for us to play 9 holes of golf with a mutual friend. I prefer not to go out in hot, humid weather, but that day was borderline. (High of 85, mostly cloudy.) Andy encouraged me to chance it. I grumbled and warned him that he might regret it.
As soon as I said that, I thought, “Why am I being so negative? What does that accomplish?”
Andy called me out on it too, saying, “Yes, it might suck. But it also might not. Don’t let a defeatist attitude be the deciding factor.”
So I took a deep breath, relaxed my facial muscles, and told myself to be optimistic.
Despite a decent warmup at the driving range, my first couple holes weren’t great. My current goal is double bogey (par + 2 strokes) for every hole, but I was scoring double par (par x 2 strokes) instead. Normally that would frustrate me, and thus things would continue to get worse. This time, I took a deep breath, relaxed my shoulders, and told myself to shake it off. “What you just did has no impact on what you do next,” I reminded myself. “Each hole — each swing, even — is a blank slate.”
With that mindset, I was able to improve steadily over the next four holes.
At that point, we had been playing for 2 hours. All I had eaten was a granola bar and some Gatorade. My energy was waning, and as I stepped up to tee off at hole 7, I could tell my drive was going to be bad. When I took my practice swing, there was no strength in my arms. I had run out of juice.
Knowing that, I swung anyway.
It was my worst drive of the day, no question. The ball got no distance, no loft. It only went 2/3 of the way to the green, and this was a puny par 3. I immediately turned to Andy and our friend and whined, “I’m tired.”
Before Andy could even roll his eyes, I caught myself. I was acknowledging a reality, yes, but I was also offering it as an excuse. The former was fine; the latter was pointless.
Another deep breath. Another relaxation of my body. Another reminder: “Be optimistic. Each swing is a new opportunity.”
I salvaged hole 7, and I did fine on 8 and 9. Was it my best game ever? No. But did I manage to play okay and enjoy myself under less than ideal conditions? Yes.
Later, Andy compared it to being a baseball player. When a guy plays 160+ games a year, statistically he’s just not going to have his best stuff every time. A top-notch player knows that, but he doesn’t let it become an excuse. He doesn’t turn to his team and whine, “Sorry, guys, I’m tired. Don’t expect too much from me.” They’re depending on him. So he has to look within himself and ask, What can I accomplish anyway?
To do that, he has to be self-aware.