The Future Workplace

This past week I had the incredible opportunity to speak to an auditorium filled with college students. I’ve become accustomed to speaking, but this time I was a bit anxious. You see, I’m almost 40 years older than all of the young students in the room. I wasn’t quite sure I’d connect with them. I was hopeful but it wasn’t a sure thing. Even though I’ve been speaking for several years in a variety of venues, I still have that tinge of uncertainty which I welcome. I never want to take it for granted or be so self-assured that I overlook the reason I speak – the audience.

The topic was fascinating because I was tagged to speak about the Future Workplace !! (Cue space music in the background.) I wanted to see where the mindset was of the students so I asked them using Slido.

(Quick aside – If you’ve never used Slido as a presenter, I highly recommend it because it allows full participation from the group you’re in front of anonymously. Check it out !!)

The kids pulled out their phones, clicked on the QR code, and started typing. I chose a WordCloud for them to populate. There were nearly two hundred responses and the top answers were: Money, Work-Life Balance and Flexibility. So, the newest folks who will be entering the workplace would like to get paid and not work all the time !! I agree that is a need even today.

Once I knew where they stood, I turned the tables on what they expected. Instead of lecturing to them about my decades of vast experience, I talked about topics to look for and expect in the workplace. The tone was more about encouraging them to be intentional and create the workplace of the future themselves. I didn’t want them to be subject to what others define for them. My generation did that and I felt that the majority of my career was filled with traditional boxes following a top/down approach.

The workplace of the future is going to be people-centric and people-first. Since the auditorium was filled with people, I shared that they had the foundation already sitting in front of them. We talked about culture, behavior, contribution, adding value, and more. The message I wanted to make sure stuck with them was this – Embrace all that they are as people and all that they’ll bring to the workplace from their vantage point. Also, I emphasized to NEVER let people from other generations put them down or degrade who they are or how they approach work.

I closed by encouraging them to connect with current businesspeople to establish mentors to be resources for them. Yes, I also told them they should network, but I wanted them to know that networking is a business skill and not a job-seeking skill. I kept with my style of having my accompanying office table filled with toys and even got some laughs despite our age difference.

At the end of the presentation, I was touched by how many students stayed to chat. Several of them said, “I didn’t know what to expect when I came tonight. I thought it might be dull and boring, but it was fun.” My favorite comment was, “I had a picture in my head of what an executive from a company looks like and sounds like. I was floored to see you dressed in a colorful shirt, fun shoes, and jeans. You were down-to-earth and authentic. You changed my perspective on what C-Suite people could be.”

It was reassuring and ironic at the same time. My nervous assumption about our significant age differences was unwarranted. We connected because of the common fact – we’re all humans. I think we should continue to focus on the human factor of the workplace now and into the future. The “things” like AI, HR Tech, new processes, and systems will always be evolving into something new. We’ll never fully be ahead of the curve and any predictions will have some things right and others will be missed.

I’m sure people will be speaking far more about the “things” of work instead of the humans. That’s a shame because the workplace of the future will include people. People frame the culture. People design the strategy. People make work come to life through the systems and processes.

I encourage all of us to embrace those who will make up the future workplace. It will be exciting to see what they do and what is invented next. Believing in them now and lifting them up is how WE can impact the future. We don’t have to keep focusing on the How and What is coming. We will be successful now and into the future for years to come if we focus on the Who !!

I’m geeked about the future. I can’t wait to see what all of those students will do. I hope you are geeked as well !!

Simple is Hard

This past week, I was fortunate to return to the speaking circuit for the first time in 2024. Whenever I get to speak to a group of my HR peers, my bucket is instantly filled. I never take it for granted. As soon as the obligatory speaker introduction ends, I can hit the first slide, and time seems to disappear.

I can feel the energy of the room ramp up when I introduce a few of the concepts I wanted to cover during my time. You see, I believe in and have practiced a stripped-down version of HR throughout my career. When I began practicing several decades ago, it wasn’t even called Human Resources it was Personnel. What was interesting was the old name of the field was a more accurate description of how most of the work was done. It was impersonal distant and heavily process-driven.

People are probably reading this and screaming that little has changed. That may be true in pockets or in companies that don’t value HR. I hate to hear that. I can’t tell you how many times people have come up to me after presentations sharing that they are faced with roles that still value the Personnel approach. Interestingly enough, there is this constant push to rename and rebrand the profession yet again. Instead of focusing on doing good work with people, we’re worried about what we’re called as an industry. I really am not concerned with what HR is or isn’t called as long as we try something that works.

Great HR is best when it is simplified. When we strip back the layers of the muck that have been built in over the years we make true progress. We thought our purpose had been to continue to build system upon system, process upon process, and policy upon policy. The more we wrote and implemented, we assured ourselves that our work and relationships with people would go smoothly. We have tricked ourselves into believing that we can have the perfect model with a set number of prescriptive steps to refer to for any situation we face.

There are still speakers, books, blogs, and podcasts that propose this ineffective and archaic belief system. Isn’t it ironic that if we only needed one true system then there wouldn’t be the need for any others? Have you stepped back to consider that?

Simplifying HR is needed because people are complicated. Each individual on this planet is unique. They can’t be, and shouldn’t be, crammed into a box of any sort in order to comply and conform. But, as Martin Scorcese so aptly stated, “Simple is hard.” You think it would be just the opposite. However, creating more and more and more layers of do’s and don’ts (mainly don’ts if we were honest) is easy. Having the discipline to keep things simple and not allow the layer building to occur takes considerably more effort.

The key to understanding here though is this – Keeping HR simple allows you and your employees to thrive. You have to trust me that you unleash more of the inherent talent people want to bring to work if you focus on allowing them to perform. How that looks where you work is up to you.

This is the baseline message of almost every talk I give. I’m out to deconstruct the past in order to build up the profession. Pulling the layers back and eliminating them reveals amazing people who have been there all the time. We just haven’t seen them because we’ve been lulled to sleep doing work building matrixes.

This week find one thing to strip back. Just one. The next week find two to three more and so on. Have faith and know that simplified HR can work for you. Taking these steps will be far more impactful than building the next great initiative. Enable the people you have working at your company to perform. You’ll find when you do this, they will.

Put Your Spin On It !!

I love those painting places where you can go and have someone teach you to paint a picture. Everyone in the class starts with the same blank canvas. The instructor stands in the front of the room and shows you what a finished product could look like.

Instructions are given and everyone hears the same things. However, once a brush dips in the paint and is applied to the canvas, something happens. Not one person does it like another person. Not one. Why is that? They all heard the same instruction and they all viewed the same picture. Wouldn’t it make sense that you’d see a room full of identical pictures? Logically, it would but creativity isn’t logical.

That doesn’t dissuade anyone from taking the class. In fact, everyone loves taking a peek at everyone else’s canvas to see how they interpreted the painting. They are unique – just like each person. There wasn’t any hope of any two canvases turning out to be alike.

(These are two of my interpretations . . .)

Now, compare this to the workplace. I was talking virtually with a friend from the UK and we were lamenting the ongoing insistence of companies copying other companies. We call it “best practices.” There are countless speakers and consultants who encourage you to adopt best practices in order to be more successful. They have good intentions, but best practices don’t work. And, if we’re honest, they’re behind.

We shouldn’t be mimics trying to recreate the culture, procedures, or approaches of other companies. Can we learn from them? Absolutely. Have they accomplished impressive things? You bet. Do you work for exactly the same company with the exact make-up of employees and have the same resources they do? No. No, you do not. Since that is our reality, why do we think we can recreate how those companies do work?

I’d like to propose a different approach with two components for you to consider. The first is this – Know that your workplace is your own blank canvas. You can see the painting someone else did before you on an easel. Start painting what YOU see. Whatever the outcome is be good with it. It’s your creation. You learned from the best practices that are exhibited on the easel and you added your own touch.

At my workplace, we call this LaRosaifying something. We look externally to see how others do things well because you can learn from good work. Taking pieces from these practices and molding them to fit how we do work with our talented people is very successful. We won’t ever be (insert name of well-known company here) and we don’t want to be.

Secondly, create the “next practice” instead of trying to replicate the work of others. You are creative !! You may not think so, or you may not think you have time in your full day to be creative, but that’s just not true. Every good idea had to start somewhere. Why not from where you work? The best practices we’ve been talking about were created somewhere by someone else. Why can’t your idea be something that inspires others?

We sell ourselves short far too often. We are consumed with production and results which keep our heads down. We don’t see the paint, brushes, and canvas just waiting to be used. If we’d be willing to pause, breathe, and lift our heads up from the day-to-day, we’d see countless canvases waiting for us to add our creations to them.

This week stop the mimicry, pick up your brush, and start painting. Put your spin on the good work you do. You’ll be surprised by the masterpiece that is just waiting to be completed.

Be a Care Partner

Throughout life, you are sure to encounter various challenges. We don’t desire that but you have to be realistic. Life wouldn’t be life without challenges. This past week, my wife and I started to face our most recent one.

I mention my wife often in my writing because I am so fortunate to have her in my life. As a couple, we balance each other. I tend to be outspoken, gregarious, eager to meet strangers, and someone who questions rules. She is stable, thoughtful, enjoys rules and structure, and warms up to people after meeting them a few times. There are other facets of our personalities that you could categorize as opposite – and that works for us.

She has always been supportive of my drive to be creative and always on the go just in case I can meet someone new. If I were someone who chose to spend their life with me, I’d wonder at times what I signed up for. On the other hand, she brings order and peace, which is incredibly attractive !! So, when she had knee replacement surgery last Wednesday, I had the opportunity to take care of her once again.

I say “again” because, in the past, she’s had extensive foot surgery, two shoulder surgeries, and now a knee. She’s decided to become bionic which is keeping her healthy and will give us more years to do life together. (One quick note, I read every blog I write to her before I publish it. She knows the topic and we aren’t breaking any HIPAA privacy rules.) Everything went smoothly and was successful. I was amazed that something so major is now an outpatient procedure !!

We came home and got her set up to start the road to recovery. I am there to assist her with actions she normally would do on her own. When I mentioned that Debbie was going to have surgery in my men’s group, I said, “I get to be her caregiver.” One of my friends corrected me. He said, “Be a care partner because you’re in this together.” That truly struck me.

Being a care partner is such a different perspective because it’s not one-sided and reminds you that more than one person is involved. This doesn’t lessen the challenge you both face, but it gives you more confidence that you can be a team to work through it together. It’s only been a few days into recuperation, but we’ve been taking the care partner approach and it’s made a huge difference.

While Debbie has been resting, I had time to contemplate. As a “partner,” you find yourself focused on others which runs contrary to what the world expects. We’re taught to be fiercely independent and stand on our own. However, I believe we are wired to be present and empathetic to others – always. This is true when you’re given the chance to care for a spouse, a partner, a parent, a child, a friend, a relative, and even a stranger.

You can be someone who chooses to care instead of being someone who chooses to avoid or deflect. We really don’t know what’s going on in the lives of the people we work with. Rarely do people take the time to be that open or vulnerable. I’m not calling for people to be more open, but I am encouraging you to be more mindful that EVERYONE you encounter has some form of “life” going on at every moment.

Acknowledging this will change your approach and lead you to be more caring and empathetic. In fact, it’s needed if you want to lead effectively. Self-centeredness only ends up tearing people apart. I’ve tried to be someone who models empathy and care at home, at work and everywhere I’ve been connected to other people. I was fortunate to see this modeled by my parents and extended family. It’s what I’ve known and what I hope to show and see in others.

This week look around to see where you can become a care partner. The opportunities are there. Step in, lend a hand, and see how those relationships grow and move forward !!

The Art of Giving

This is a time of year when people feel the urge to give to others. I love that this is the case !! I know that the holidays aren’t only about gift-giving. Trust me. At the same time, I appreciate any time people pause to think of others. If the holidays provide an environment for people to be more selfless and less focused on themselves, then I’m in.

I enjoy shopping for my wife because I am so grateful for her and it’s fun to get her something that matters from her wish list. She has traditionally taken care of our kids and does an amazing job. She is always equitable in who gets what and is also thoughtful. Our kids (adults) are older now, so there is less quantity and far more meaningful quality. In fact, my kids have adopted the practice of only getting me gifts that make me weepy. It’s a fairly low threshold, but it’s something I cherish.

At work, we traditionally do food drives, coat drives and pick a charity to support families with felt needs. We give our employees an opportunity to chip in, but there isn’t an expectation of mandatory participation. Inevitably, the giving is overflowing, and the amount of donations is humbling and overwhelming. You hear a general hum of positivity fill the hallways more this time of year and there is less grousing about the challenges of work.

Our exec group has had a practice of giving each other gifts which started years ago. We spend so much time together throughout each year and it’s a cool way to let your co-workers know they’re on your heart. A few people give the same things annually and it’s fun knowing these treats are coming. This past week, however, I was taken aback by two gifts I received.

Quick explanation . . .

I am a GIANT fan of all things Ted Lasso. I love the show and feel it may be the best HR show ever made without directly being about HR. In the show, Ted makes biscuits for his boss every day. So, to get a package of Ted Lasso sayings, a towel with the recipe for the biscuits, AND actual biscuits to try was so wonderful !! (NOTE: The biscuits are sooooooooo delicious. I would recommend you make some yourself. I plan to !!)

The other gift was a print filled with a montage of items from my hometown of Ada, Ohio. If you know me at all, you know that being from Ada means the world to me. I spent the most formative years of school there, and it will always be a place I will be connected to throughout my life.

I wanted you to have more of an explanation of these gifts because they reflect the art of what giving can do. Giving causes us to pause and think of others on purpose. It stops the pattern people have of primarily thinking about themselves and their needs first and foremost. Giving also shows your heart and opens you to be more vulnerable and open with people.

The art of giving should be a pattern of our lives year-round. We are all surrounded by people who have needs. Most need to be given the gift of time and acknowledgment. You can let them know they matter in who they are and what they contribute. Others may want the gift of attention. A time when they receive your entire focus without distraction. No phones, laptops, or screens. You are “there” when they are there.

You will also come across those who may be facing challenges, trials, or periods of a larger need. See how you can step in. You may have resources yourself or you can connect them with others who can lend a hand.

It’s imperative we all learn, and embrace the art of giving. Imagine how our workplaces, our neighborhoods, and the world would look if we did !!

Community Builds Community

This past week something very cool happened. A young man posted a question on Linked In asking whether one should be an HR generalist or an HR specialist. It caught my attention because he was kind enough to pull a quote from my book – HR on Purpose !!

I wanted to make sure to respond. This wasn’t because he quoted my book. I try to look at the posts of my peers and do my best to acknowledge them and respond. I think we misconstrue social media as only a series of highlights, and we miss that people want to have conversations. I reached out to Shomari and offered to have a real chat on the phone or virtually. He was kind enough to agree to this when something magical occurred. Other peers who commented on his original post wanted to come together and be included in our call as well.

We set a date and a time which was a bit of a challenge because we live in three different time zones. Through the wonderful world of technology, we made it happen. Shomari had put together a list of preparatory questions he wanted to make sure to cover. Four of us were on a Zoom call and the hour we spent together was wonderful. Several opinions were shared along with much laughter. In fact, one person on the call said she loved that we laughed because she said she doesn’t do this nearly enough as she should. That warmed my heart.

The key takeaway from the four of us convening was not the content or approaches we discussed. Instead, it was something truly revealing. The three others who joined me expressed how much they valued getting together and talking to their peers. Building the foundations of a community between peers was the wonderful outcome. That too warmed my heart. Anytime I see the light come on when peers understand how much better work and life is by having a community, I’m filled with joy. Literally.

I had spent the first several years alone as an HR practitioner. I kept my head down and didn’t even think about peers who also practiced HR. I never reached out to others and others didn’t reach out to me. It didn’t make work fun by any means. Once my eyes were open to connect with others, my career took off personally and professionally. After I saw the benefits of having my own community, I was compelled to make sure that others became connected as well.

Despite my best efforts to date, I find that a significant portion of HR professionals remain isolated. I don’t understand it but I’m not defeated in the least. I’m encouraged that opportunities like the one from last week will continue to present themselves. When they do, I plan to fully jump in. What I’d love to see though, is for others to do the same.

We’re a stronger and more relevant profession when we’re intentionally connected. Many of the social media platforms which brought many of us together years ago are evolving or deteriorating which is pushing people back into the shadows. We can’t allow this to occur !! I know many others who are also community builders around the globe. They continue to do amazing work, and they’re doing all they can to make sure communities are growing and remain sustainable.

I heard the phrase – Community Builds Community – this week, and it is absolutely true.

As we head into 2024, please join in. Know that if you’re in HR then I consider you as part of my community already. Since you’re already “connected,” then take the next step to reach out to others, and let’s make more of this activity occur. It will make a difference to people personally and it will help our companies grow and thrive !! Community builds community.

BTW – Shomari is staying in touch with the three of us and figuring out how we can keep talking and networking. I’m geeked to be included and we’ll see where his efforts go.

The Sun Still Rises

This Thanksgiving my wife, mother, and I visited my brother Mark in Knoxville, Tennessee. My sister-in-law Kathi’s parents also joined in as well as my three nephews and their families. It was a joy to be able to hang out together for a few days.

My brother and I have always been close. We are both tall, have a boisterous laugh, and we love being together. I cherished it when we lived closer to each other because we would make time to see one another. The moment we embraced this past week, it instantly melted the distance and miles away. It was just a few minutes before we started cracking up with laughter.

My brother has been very successful personally and professionally. I’ve always been proud of all he’s accomplished. As many similarities as we have, there is one difference that stands out. I’ve lived in the same house with my immediate family since 1991. My brother has not. His jobs have taken him all over the Midwest and the South. Most recently, he left the confines of suburbia to move to the country and land on a sprawling 10-acre plot.

It’s a wonderful piece of land that has boundaries of trees around three sides. You can wander for hours and hours in the woods and get lost in your thoughts. He and Kathi were intentional in clearing the land to have an unobstructed view of the Great Smoky Mountains in the distance. It’s truly breathtaking. One of the daily highlights of this view is how the sunrise occurs.

I made sure to wake up early every day to go out to the back porch to enjoy a hot cup of coffee, read my Bible, and practice my German. The additional benefit was that I was greeted by the sun rising magnificently over the mountains. The light first started by changing the hue of the sky. Brilliant colors shot across the horizon, and it’s as if a switch was then flipped on as the sun broke over the mountains in the distance.

I took pictures each morning so I could capture what I saw, and refer to them after I left. I wanted the reminder because I think we need to remember the sun still rises every day.

Too often, we are consumed with every possible distraction that frames our basic day. We get buried by so many things we forget to look up. We miss the awe of what a sunrise brings. How would your day go if the first thing you did was have your breath taken away? I think it would be drastically better !!

We also have an opportunity to be a sunrise for others. If they missed the light breaking over the horizon, then we could provide that spark that breaks through any darkness or despair threatening to swallow them. We can’t afford to forget the daily sunrise. We just can’t.

This week pause before rushing out the door or heading to your laptop. You have the time. You truly do. Start the day looking up toward the horizon. Take a deep breath and start your day with awe. It’s worth the time to remember the sun still rises.

M.C. Escher Was Right !!

This past week I had the opportunity to travel to Vero Beach, Florida to meet with HR peers at the Treasure Coast HR Association. They were kind enough to gather and let me present a different look at human resources. I cherish any time I get a chance to do this because it gives me an opening to encourage folks who work in the same wonderful industry I do.

I made sure to build in some time to wander in and around Vero Beach for an extra few days. I had never been to the city, and I find it fulfilling to explore and see the areas of the world where I get to speak. I meandered through the shops in the quaint downtown, grabbed lunch at a local sandwich shop, and took a stroll down a boardwalk overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. I made sure to visit other local eateries and a brewery during my visit. The highlight of everything though was a visit to the Vero Beach Museum of Art !!

I do my best to visit art museums in every city I go to. Art fills my soul. To see the expressions of others using various mediums stretches my imagination. The pieces are all interesting in some way. I may not “get” what the artist was trying to capture, but those pieces are intriguing as well. Art isn’t something to agree with. It’s something to learn from.

I was especially geeked because the museum had a special exhibit of the works of Dutch artist, M.C. Escher. You may not recognize his name, but I guarantee you’d recognize his work. Instead of just walking from piece to piece, I was fortunate to join a tour with a docent who took the time to tell us about Escher and how he created his work. It was fascinating !!

I always assumed that Escher drew his compositions. I was absolutely floored to learn that he actually made prints by using wood cuttings and lithographs. The images that he captured he did backward !! It’s hard to grasp because the intricacies and level of detail are mind-blowing. To think he even saw these images in his mind is hard enough to understand. To take those thoughts and then create them in reverse is astonishing. There are no good words and it made me admire his work even more.

The docent took several minutes at a handful of the 160 works on display to help us look deeply at each one. I found myself falling headlong into the prints and ignoring what was going on around me. Escher didn’t consider himself a traditional artist because he felt they focused on beauty. He wanted to bring out “wonder” instead. His earlier work was more conventional while still being amazing capturing the scenery of his time living throughout Italy. As his career progressed, he began to design impossible and infinite works. When you look at them, there is no definite start or finish. They just move eternally.

After the tour ended, I took my time to go back through the exhibition and enjoy every single piece. You see, I think Escher captured the essence of life and work. Each of them are ever-moving, ever-changing continuums. There aren’t discernable starting points or conclusions. Once something is accomplished, it’s already changing into the next iteration.

We don’t recognize this reality because we strive for absolutes. We want things to have a clear start and a finite end. I understand this because we feel it gives work form and function. However, just like Escher’s lithographs and wood cuttings, work is infinite. Even if we try to take a slice out to focus on a portion of what’s in front of us, the movement continues in and around us.

I would encourage each of us to approach our days as if we were inserting ourselves inside an Escher work. Jump into the continuum and move freely to see where it takes you. Quit trying to control every moment of your day and see how the flow of everything is happening all around you. You need to believe me that understanding work is infinite will give you more fulfillment than trying to confine the occurrences in your environment.

I’m grateful I did some exploration in beautiful Vero Beach. I found an example of life’s continuum in an unexpected place. I think Escher would dig that !!

Just Turn It On !!

This month I quietly celebrated a career milestone by passing my 17th anniversary with the same company. I’m grateful beyond words that they took a chance on me so long ago. During my time there, I have been able to grow personally and professionally more than I could ever have imagined.

It started in a very interesting manner though . . .

During their selection process, a peer of mine, who was interviewing for the HR role herself, reached out to me. She told me there was a role she thought I’d be a great fit for. I didn’t know she was being considered. She didn’t tell me. I sent the company resumes of other HR pros I knew and then asked if I could be considered as well. The gentleman who turned out to be my future boss told me, “We were hoping you’d apply.”

My first interview was in a booth in a pizzeria. Kevin asked me how I felt about being in the restaurants and I replied, “Do I even need to go to my desk ??” Evidently, it was the right answer. I came back for a round of second interviews at the corporate office. As I was taken from office to office to meet the various executives, I noticed something. Lava lamps. Many of the offices had them and I started to get giddy.

If you know me at all, I have a handful of quirks. One of them is lava lamps. I have had at least one for over the past 30 years. I dig them and they give me peace because of their simplicity. To see them dotting the offices of people I hoped would be co-workers was a great sign. It was curious though that they were darkened and not doing what they were created for.

I was hired and I brought my ancient, yet reliable, lava lamp with purple goo with me on my first day. Before I even completed the mandatory HR paperwork for new hires, I plugged it in and did something radical . . . I turned it on !!

As people came to visit me in my new place, they noticed the blobs of the lava lamp easily moving up and down. Most of them said, “Cool lamp !!” The ones who had lava lamps in their offices even commented and I shared, “You know, yours can do this too.”

You see, I think lava lamps are reflective of how we see people and what we could do to alter that. When we meet people, we truly don’t take much time to get to know them. The vast majority of our work relationships are kept at a surface level at best. From that shallow vantage point, we make massive judgments about people. Those judgments may not always turn out to be positive either. People aren’t swayed or discouraged by this. It seems that investing time in others is never as important as real “work.”

It’s a shame that we’ve expected this level of shallowness to be the norm of our company culture. If we would do one simple thing and just turn them on, I think we’d see the incredible light, talent, and life each person innately has. We’d see that time invested unlocks who they are as a human and allows them to express themselves through their performance.

I believe in this so much that I give a lava lamp away every time I get to speak at HR and business events. A simple gift to spread the light helps reframe people’s perspectives and how they view others. I “require” people to send me a picture of the lava lamp fully lit in their workplace to make sure they keep the light going. In fact, I just got a note from an HR peer who said she still thinks of me because she received a lava lamp from me 10 years ago !!

If you come to my office now, I have five lava lamps going at all times and another four at home. I don’t feel I could seriously have enough of them (but my wife may disagree.)

This week, stop looking at just the exterior of the people you work with. Know that they’re just waiting for someone to help them flip their switch. Help them do that and be the one who allows their brilliance to shine every day !!

One Good Shot

This weekend I participated in an event I enjoy but don’t do very often. Our church had a golf scramble for anyone who wanted to jump in. I own some golf clubs but they are far from a championship set. I’ve used them for several years when I’m called upon to be in an outing for work, a charity, or just for fun. I’ve gone with some friends for a couple of rounds too, but they are few and far between.

We had four foursomes and my group went first. It included my dear friend Bob and the Rice brothers – Dave and James. My three teammates were more confident and accomplished than I was. I enjoy golf because you get to be outside for several hours mixed with conversations, laughter, and camaraderie. You see, I don’t go golfing with people who are highly competitive or take the game too seriously. That’s not because I don’t think you should approach the game that way, but I know my limitations and I just frustrate those types of players.

It’s been over two years since I pulled out my clubs. I actually took them to the garage and had to brush the dust off of them. I wasn’t even sure I had enough golf balls because I was sure to scatter some off one side of the course or another. I knew the day was going to go well when I discovered a windbreaker that was tucked away in my golf bag that I thought I had lost !! I know that has nothing to do with performing on the course, but it was at least one win for the day.

We did well off the first tee and all four of us had shots that went towards the hole. Then . . .

Let’s just say the remainder of the round was more of an adventure than trying to place among the top teams. If you’re a golfer, the goal is to shoot under par. The winning team shot 6 under par and our team was, well, 12 over par. I wasn’t discouraged though because we spent so much time enjoying being with each other.

There was one other thing that people hope for when they hit the links. On one of the holes where you can get the longest drive, I crushed my tee shot. If faded to the right but landed just on the fringe of the fairway and therefore counted in the contest. I had one good shot. It was the kind of shot that gives you the encouragement to tell yourself you should continue to play golf once again. My massive stroke only lasted for mere moments because a player in the next foursome outdrove me.

Isn’t that astonishing? Is it that simple?

Yes, it is. Having a small success is far more impactful than a series of failures. We focus far more on our shortcomings than our successes and I think we should turn that around. If you have “one good shot,” there’s an opportunity to have another one, then another, and then another.

This week take a look for your small successes and then build on them. At the same time, look for the good shots others make as well. Over time, you’ll see that you are far more accomplished than you ever thought !!