I love golf. I absolutely love to play golf. The sport does not like me back. I have never loved something so much that I was so bad at, There is just something about being outside in the sunshine with a few buds, a few suds, trying to smash a small ball as hard as you can, then try to control a hit onto the green, then show ultimate finesse but putting into a small hole. Then doing that another 17 times. The game is crazy, but I absolutely love it.
A Story About Golf
It was an overcast Friday afternoon on the course when my little brother and I approached hole 14. 14 was a par 3, so it was doable to hit the green in one shot. I was ahead a few strokes on my brother with the loser of the day buying lunch. But that wasn’t enough. I wanted more. Approaching the par three, I asked my brother how much money he has in his wallet.He told me he had $10 and I asked if he wanted to wager closest to the pin on this hole. He declined. Now, my brother and I were cut from the same cloth so we both are stingy as hell and don’t gamble money. But we also are some of the most competitive people you will ever met and the thought of losing to one another is almost too much to bear. I pushed and poked and prodded, until I got the answer I was looking for. Wager in. Game on. He said he will wager his $10 on closest to the pin. He was golfing the game of his life and was confident that we could be me. He was first off the tee box…
He lined up, shook off the nerves, deep breath, slow back, fast forward and BOOM. Great contact, the sound was good, the follow through was good we both stood there and watched it. 20 feet from the pin on the green. Now, that may not sound like much, but for 2 guys that don’t golf very well, hitting the green on a par 3 is a BIG DEAL, much less hitting on the green 20 feet from the pin. He turned and looked at me with an expression that only said “may as well give me that $10 bucks now”. But again, we are a competitive bunch so I knew I had to battle.
From there, it felt like a movie. Me walking in slow motion to the tee box, dropping my ball as if I own the course. A quick glance at the tee to line up, deep breathe and a smooth swing. We watched, enthralled in the suspense. The ball game falling to the earth and with a loud thump on the green it landed, 6 feet from the pin. My brother had hit his best shot he could, but sadly so did I. I gladly pocketed my extra $10, although the loser on the day – I still had to buy lunch.
Whatever You Are Doing – COMPETE
I told this story for a reason. This was a leisure golf game. We both had Friday afternoon off, it was a beautiful southern california day, we have a 12 pack a beer, an open golf course and no time constraints. We could have very easily walked, hit a few golf balls, chit chatted and caught up on life as we rarely get to do that. But instead, we turned it into a competitive match, putting wagers on holes and a bet on the entire golf game.
We made it competitive. We made it so we had to compete during it. Competition is an amazing thing. Competition keeps you on your edges, keeps you at your best, keeps you tweaking what you do. I know for certain that me beating my brother on that hole pissed him off to where he is going to be thinking of that shot and how he could be me next time that happens. He is thinking how he could make himself better. And next time – after making himself better – if he beats me – I will do the same. And we will continue to compete and improve ourselves. Competition equals improvement.
Competition is a way to improve yourself. It means that if you win – you are the best, but you need to keep being the best. You need to polish your tools in order to be the best because before you know it, someone may just beat you. Someone is always hunting for the best. You keep pushing or you will lose it. Lose it, push harder to gain it back. Even if you are in last place – compete to keep moving forward – to keep gaining on the competition.
People are afraid to compete because they are afraid to lose. My brother lost $10. And he could have just let it go, but I know that losing made him want to be better. Losing is not a bad thing. Losing means there is someone out there that is better than you and you need to work harder in order to beat him. And if you are the winner, know that there is always someone behind you. Losing equals learning.
From every loss you learn something. Or you at least should. The bad sport is the one who loses then goes whines to everyone why he lost, making excuses. The real winners are those that lose, and look for the underlying reasons why and improve on those, making themselves better so next time, the victory will go to them.
Whether you are a playing sports, working your 9-5, doing a side hustle, running a business, being a father/husband, cheering on your favorite sports team – whatever it is – COMPETE. Don’t be afraid to be the best and don’t be afraid to lose. Let that hunger inside of your drive to be the best and make sure if you ever aren’t the best, you don’t be a sore loser and let that 2nd place finish drive you to be #1. That is competition. That is good for the soul. And that is what helps you to win.