Getting Better Means Never Stopping

Somewhere in Daniel Coyle’s The Talent Code, he reveals that all it would take to get less good at something would be no more than thirty days, or just around a month’s time. Even the world’s most adept masters, according to Coyle, are not exempt from this rule. For Yo-yo Ma to start to get worse, he would just have to not practice for thirty days.

Well, before he got worse, he would probably plateau – but in Coyle’s terms, that’s essentially the same thing. In other words, if you’re not actively getting better, you’re actually getting worse.

Along the way, putting aside certain skill sets in favor of new ones might make sense. Time, changing circumstances, personal growth, and practical considerations are all factors which help to determine which skill sets we might put aside for a time, or, abandon altogether.

If we don’t keep up with any skill set for an extended period of time, then it will be that much more difficult to come back to. For example, if you’re a personal development guru and you took a month off from public speaking, you’d really have to kick your butt to get back in the groove. And the time and effort it would take to do so would hopefully warrant that such a lengthy vacation wouldn’t happen again. But if Tony Robbins decided to take a month off from, say, eating red meat, or even decide to become a vegan, his business probably wouldn’t take nearly as much of a fall. (This is strictly a made-up example – I have no idea about Mr. Robbin’s dietary preferences.)

Now let’s say Mr. Robbins liked to play basketball. Basketball, most would agree, is a wholesome and beneficial activity. But if Mr. Robbins decided to drop this activity, and not play basketball for a month, that too would not harm or really effect his primary calling, life coaching, in any way.

It’s up to us how we’d like to manage our skill sets. Some may go by the wayside, others might become more important as we decide that it makes sense to focus on them in order to achieve a new goal or Vision. This is all okay, just so long as we understand that there is always give and take, push and pull. More focus in one area might mean less attention on another, and vice versa. And if we decide to come back to something we’ve let go for thirty days or more, we’ll be that much more hard pressed to get back up to speed.

Balance doesn’t look like two weights at either end of the scale perfectly level, hovering, still. Balance is a constant, adaptive process – up and down, up and down. Balance is motion, and stagnation is stasis. Balance is never really completely achieved – it’s an ideal, just like everything worth shooting for.

Why I Love Golf

There are few sports that I love more than golf. In fact, there are few anythings that I love more than golf. Whenever I am on the golf course, even if I am playing badly, I feel a powerful love for everything and everyone and have a big smile on my face that seems glued there.

I know why this is. Because out on the links, it’s just me and the ball, me and the game. Any personal struggles are left behind, all regrets, mistakes, not in the picture. Even the positive aspects of life are sitting back there, waiting for me when I walk off the 9th or 18th hole. For the next few hours, I am walking through a manicured landscape, swinging a stick and watching a ball propelling into the air and landing somewhere over there.

I don’t expect much from golf. I’d like to get the point where I can consistently hit bogie, par, and the occasional birdie. I don’t hope to some day reach a competitive level – it’s too late for that anyway. And this, I think, is the most compelling thing about golf for me. Pure enjoyment.

I’ve always been one to be a bit hard on myself. Noticing that I had some natural talents, I was never one to let myself get away with not aiming high. But somewhere along the way, something bad happened – I let this overwhelm me. I grew jaded, to the point of ignoring my God-given abilities. I compared myself to lofty “idols” or “heros” that only accentuated the gap between where I was and where I wanted to be. I became discouraged.

That never happened with golf. I never try to push myself too far beyond my current skill level, I can skip a few days and notice that I can still return to the course with the same unfettered joy and enthusiasm. Golf, for me, is a respite, a refuge. I don’t feel any cosmic responsibility to face it down.

That’s why I love golf.