We’ve all thought, “That’s not my thing,” or “Someone else is better suited for this.”
Many of us believe we must be at the level required to achieve specific goals or dreams.
However, as leaders of our own lives and sometimes of others, the sheer art of
persistence, practice, and grit can lead to unimaginable accomplishments. This
realization takes me back almost 47 years ago to a defining moment involving my
buddy Tom Coshow and a round of golf.

When I was twelve, Tom asked me if I had ever played golf. My answer was a
resounding no, mainly because we didn’t have the money for such activities. But Tom’s
dad invited me to join them, and off we went to the local county course, a modest 9-
hole setup among the willows and eucalyptus trees. I played my first round of golf that
day. Despite being athletic enough not to embarrass myself completely, I realized that
this game required everything life demands: persistence, practice, patience, and grit. It
was all there.

Since that day, I’ve experienced frustration, lost my temper, thrown a club or two, and
even put the game down for periods of time. But I always came back. The relationships
built through golf, the physical exercise of walking and moving, and being outdoors are
all healthy endeavors. Golf, much like life, presents challenges that seem unattainable.
The rare shots, the elusive albatross, or the mythical hole-in-one are feats that seem
out of reach. Yet, we use the term “hole-in-one” metaphorically despite the odds of
actually achieving one.

Fast forward to two weeks ago. With 47 years of golf, I had never come close to a hole-
in-one. At my best, I was an 8 or 10 handicap (the lower the number, the better you
are), and today, I am far from that. Yet, I was on a par 3, 150 yards from the hole,
with a 15-mile-per-hour wind in my face. I had been in this spot many times before,
much like facing life’s challenges. People around me started saying it had a chance as I
hit the ball. We all watched as the ball landed on the green and rolled until it
disappeared into the tiny hole. A lifetime impossibility just became a reality – a bucket
list moment.

It made me think: What if I hadn’t played that day? What if I quit years ago, or Tom
had never invited me to play golf? I wouldn’t have been there, and this moment
happened because of a push from someone who gave me an opportunity, patience,
practice, and mostly grit. There are countless reasons why I should never have been on
that tee box, and most of them sound like quitting or walking away. But without grit,
there would have been no hole-in-one. Without patience and practice, I wouldn’t have
had the ability to hit that shot. Persistence and the people who gave me opportunities
made it possible. The odds for a golf enthusiast like me to achieve this are less than
half of one percent, yet it happened to me.

As we reflect on our leadership journey, whether leading ourselves or others and how
we respond to life’s figurative 15-mile-per-hour winds, we must consider the ease of
quitting versus the potential of persistence. Where could we have been if we had
persisted, pressed on, or teed it up again? Every day, we step onto some metaphorical
tee box to hit our shots in life. Sometimes, the odds are not great, but they are not
impossible. They improve with persistence, practice, and grit.

Consider the odds of making a hole-in-one. According to the National Hole-in-One
Registry, the average golfer’s odds are 12,500 to 1. The odds are better for a
professional at 2,500 to 1, but still daunting. Yet, these improbable feats happen. They
metaphorize life’s achievements, where persistence and effort can lead to our figurative

Golf teaches us valuable lessons about life. The importance of committing to practice
and growth, even if we experience setbacks or frustrations, mirrors the journey of
achieving personal and professional goals. The relationships we build along the way,
like those formed on the golf course, play a crucial role in our success. Surrounding
ourselves with the right people who support and cheer us on can make all the

So, do yourself a favor:

Even if you throw a club early on, have the grit to stay the course. Your hole-in-one
may come sooner than you think. And always find the right people to play the game
with – they will make you better and cheer you on.

As leaders, we must embrace persistence, practice, and grit in everything we do.
Whether we lead ourselves or others, these qualities can lead to remarkable
achievements. So, step onto the tee box of life, face the challenges head-on, and
remember that the odds may not always be in your favor, but with persistence and the
right mindset, you can achieve the unimaginable. Now, get on the tee box. Your hole-
in-one is coming.

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