Bill Murray is Serious

By Paul Monahan, GGA Mental Game Coach

Bill Murray is one funny guy. How many times have you seen him joking around and stirring up mayhem at the Pebble Beach Pro Am? Year after year everyone wants to see him show up, partly because of the outlandish outfits, but mostly because you just never know what that guy is going to do or say.

Dancing with fans in sand traps, posing for pictures, drinking beer with the gallery…nothing seems to be off limits for this wild fun-loving guy with a larger-than-life personality.

But Bill Murray has a profoundly serious side…one that – if you choose to explore it a little – may just help you think differently about your golf game.

The stories of Murray just showing up at parties un-invited, hanging out for hours singing and partying, and even staying late to do the dishes are legendary. What is this all about?

Turns out that Bill Murray has thought very deeply about how he wants to show up in his life…and perhaps the one way to describe that is this: he wants to play the game of life from a PRESENCE perspective. He wants to be present and in-the-moment as much as possible so that he can thoroughly enjoy what life has to offer. No matter what that might be.

With a little reflection, it becomes easy to see where his penchant for being present comes from: a life in improvisational comedy. As you may know, the one foundational rule of improv comedy is this:  ACCEPT what is given to you. So, if you and Bill Murray are “doing improv” and you say to Bill: “Hey Bill, how does that chocolate cake in your hand taste?”… Murray MUST proceed as if he actually has chocolate cake in his hand.

The cool thing – I imagine – of spending so much time operating from a perspective of acceptance  is that NOTHING throws you off. Why not? Because of two reasons: first, you have NO expectations about what will happen. Second, you have committed beforehand to managing (…moving through, around or past) whatever shows up.

Murray has NO expectation about what you will say to him, and he is FINE having to “play” with whatever you present to him because he has ALREADY COMMITTED to doing so.

The ancient philosophers defined Wisdom as one of the most important virtues…and within Wisdom, they identified CURIOSITY as one of its most important strengths. Why? When we operate with curiosity, we see things for what they are – and not worse than they are. And – perhaps, most important, we don’t get stuck in the disappointment of expectations unmet.

Murray’s zest for life – his willingness to be present and in the moment, and to play with whatever he is handed – creates an incredible ability to deal with life’s challenges in productive ways.

It turns out that Bill Murray is SERIOUS about his FUN. He is intentional about acceptance…and it helps him to experience the things in front of him – whatever they are – in amazingly meaningful ways. And it also helps him to stay connected to his full potential in any moment.

What would that look like if you showed up in your golf game with a little more acceptance instead of loads of expectation (and the disappointment that comes from expectations unmet)? What would it look like if you were more curious about your golf game, instead of demanding that the game GIVE you something?

I think you would enjoy the game more…and perhaps shoot lower scores. What do you think?

Paul Monahan

Paul Monahan

Paul Monahan is an International Coach Federation (ICF) - credentialed coach working in the arena of human potential. Paul’s clients are leaders, executives, athletes and musicians who are serious about transforming how they perform in critical moments. His experiences in leadership and development over a highly-successful 25-year corporate career have created powerful context and understanding for the leaders and executives he coaches. Additionally, his passions and experiences in sports and music have uniquely positioned Paul to profoundly impact his clients in those areas as well.

5 thoughts to “Bill Murray is Serious”

  1. I’m not disagreeing with anything said in this article. My daughter does stand up and improv comedy. But I would add that Bill Murray is a Buddhist. While the training for various Buddhist schools of thought may differ somewhat, there is a common theme of accepting and being open to all situations and emotions so that one can see them clearly, as they are, which makes them quite workable. Wisdom is seeing things as they actually are (referred to as naked or bare) without one’s projected conceptual overlay. This wisdom is available to all beings all the time regardless of religion, gender, etc. … all beings, all the time. Thx for the article. 🙏

  2. I just finished training in a new job on my own today. Thank you for article . Time to hit from the first tee.

  3. Paul:

    As always, a very interesting and thought provoking article. I particularly like the concept about being “serious about his fun”. I am guilty about setting too many expectations and being disappointed when I don’t live up to them. I will definitely work on my “acceptance” of what’s thrown at me .

    Looking forward to your next article. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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