A few weeks ago, I was chatting with my speaker friend Jake Thompson who host’s the Raising competitor’s podcast, and he told me I should share this story with my audience. So here it goes.
In May, I had the pleasure of spending the weekend with my wife's family and watching my 17-year-old daughter compete in a golf tournament. Although, at 4 pm on that Saturday, the experience was the farthest thing from pleasurable.
Madyson, our daughter, has been playing golf since she was ten years old and has become quite a competitive athlete. She was not blessed with natural talent at golf; however, through the years, she has worked very hard at improving her game incrementally. Madyson now shoots respectable scores, and when she does not perform to her capabilities, she gets upset. Partly because she is a teenager and partly because of her competitiveness.
Let me set the scene: At 4:00 pm on that Saturday, it was not pretty. Mady was finishing the 12th hole and was already 22 shots over par, with six more holes to go. She was already going to post her worst score in more than six years.
As a parent, I was heartbroken. My child was out there trying, she was crying, and not performing well. All I wanted to do was pull her off the course, take her into my arms and not allow her to withdraw from the competition. I was a wreck.
But I did not do that.
We taught Madyson to finish what she starts, regardless of the outcome. I could not override a life lesson. Although if you ask my wife, my brother, and sister-in-law, I wanted to get her off the course desperately.
As the afternoon went on, Madyson finished the tournament in stellar fashion, shooting even par on the final six holes; for non-golfers, that is a solid finish.
The next day Madyson shot the lowest score for the entire tournament.
I was beaming as a father and could not have been prouder of her resilience. But I was wrong, shortly thereafter she made me even prouder.
When I asked Mady what she thought, she comically replied almost instantaneously,
"Dad, I went through the five stages of grief yesterday, except when I got to Acceptance. Rather than Accept, I chose to persist. I was not going to give up, knowing I would finish near the bottom. I was committed to doing my best."
Her maturity, and ability to recognize she needed to keep moving forward, made me even prouder.
How does this translate to Leadership?
We are all going to have horrible days in our work and personal lives when it appears nothing is going right.
Mady's lesson: There is always another hole where you can rebound.
At times we may want to give up on our goals altogether.
Mady's lesson: When a goal seems impossible, take it one shot at a time.
Sometimes you get emotional.
Mady's lesson: Take a moment, reassess the situation, remove your emotions, and make the best decision possible. If you do not conquer it today, you still have tomorrow.
Acceptance versus Persistence:
Mady's final lesson: You do not have to accept your circumstances; however, you can overcome them. It may take some time, maybe not as quick as you would like, but you have it in you, Persist.
Let them learn:
There may be times in your leadership career, where you may be watching an epic failure of your team. They always appear to be happening in slow motion, and you will want to step to stop the pain.
Colin's lesson: If it does not harm the organization, let your team work it out. Prepare them. Then let them succeed or fail all on their own. They will be better for it.
Thank you, Mady, for letting me share your experience. Keep working hard, sacrificing, and teaching me. You make me proud every single day - win or lose.
Thank you, Jake, for advising me to share this story.