Success is a Messy Project

I recently had an email exchange with one of our long time alumni on the topic of success. It was enlightening to hear the ideas of this student’s idea of what success was, and how his understanding of success had changed over the years. This conversation prompted this article, due to the reality that many of us don’t have a clearly defined idea of what success looks like, but rather have a distorted theory of what success ‘should’ look like.

To best illustrate the concept, I want to share with you a picture this student shared with me, which I believe best exemplifies our theory of success vs. the reality of success.

To me, the left side of this image sums up why a vast majority of golfers never truly improve their games. They, like most, believe that they just need that one “secret” to instant improvement; just a little ‘tweak’ here or there on their swing, or their putting stroke, and voila!, they will be shooting better scores, hitting longer, straighter drives, etc. In other words, they have bought into the hype of “lose 30 lbs in 10 days” that is so prevalent in marketing today. On a sidebar, this has been and continues to be our biggest struggle as a company trying to market in the golf world. How do you market something that will take some work and effort on the part of the consumer? As one student told me after a school; the truth is the hardest thing to sell. But I digress.

The right side of the image is, in my own experience, what success really looks and feels like. It’s a mess. Frustrating, sometimes confusing, often fleeting, and never as satisfying as we expected. However, if you study the “mess” of success, notice how the trend is generally in a positive direction most of the time? Such is the reality of success.

Many years ago, Todd and I were in Orlando, and I was frustrated with my own ‘success’ with the Moe Norman Single Plane Swing. I couldn’t deny that I was hitting the ball better than I ever had, but I still wasn’t happy. To be honest about it, I was whining to Todd about it. And he finally got tired of my whining and said something to me that will stick with me as long as I live. “Scott”, he said, “if you went on a diet and had a goal to lose 50lbs by a certain date, but got to that date and had only lost 45lbs, would you consider yourself a failure?”

I have to admit that his comment hit me like a ton of bricks. Of course, my answer was “No, I didn’t fail, I just came up short of my goal, but I did make progress in the right direction”. Our conversation then turned to how that analogy parallels success in golf.

When you apply that same analogy to your golf game, here’s what you get the game of golf is a game of misses. The ‘better’ your misses are, the better you play, the better you score. Even Moe Norman was still working to ‘miss it better’ at age 74 just prior to his death.

As I’ve written before, the game of golf is so great because it parallels the game of life; there is no perfection, just the pursuit.

So, let me summarize before I get too far gone into this and end up writing a book on this subject:

  1. Success with your golf game is about the pursuit of developing ideal fundamentals, not about shooting better scores.Better scores are a by-product of better fundamentals. Obviously, Moe Norman’s Single Plane Swing gives each of us not only the simplest way to achieve better fundamentals, but also a clear and concise model to compare ourselves to along the journey. The undeniable truth here is that the closer you are to matching Moe and the way he moved the club, you will become a more consistent ball striker. The same holds true with your putting stroke or chipping stroke.
  2. Your journey on the ‘success’ pathway will be a damned mess sometimes.It’s inevitable. Sometimes you will regress, other times you’ll get frustrated. You’ll have flashes of brilliance followed by maddening mediocrity. How you deal with these times will be the key to your long-term

The bottom line my friends is this; those of us who have taken up Moe’s Single Plane swing has a huge benefit over our less enlightened golf brethren. You see, we have a model to compare ourselves to at each step along the way, they do not. In order words, we have a gauge to compare ourselves to. We always know where we stand in comparison to the model, as long as we take the time and put the effort in to compare ourselves to the model.

My challenge to you – get out of the ‘instant gratification’ mindset of success, and immerse yourself in the “mess” that success truly is. Work to match the model in every aspect, and know that when it gets maddening and frustrating, you know you’re in the ‘success sweet spot’.

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