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                The Adaptive Challenge that is Playing Golf

                Michelle Sales/08 February 2022
                5 minutes read time

                You’ve probably heard it said that golf and life are a lot alike in that they both test our ability to adapt and overcome obstacles.

                I’ve played tennis for most of my life and I’ve loved it. I tried to take up golf in my twenties and had some lessons but tennis always remained my passion. Until now…Fast forward to me in my fifties and I’m finding a love for golf. Most days!

                I teach Adaptive Leadership so you would think I’d be very familiar with adaptive challenges. That is until I started to learn to play better golf.

                What I’m learning

                There are so many factors involved with this sport where you need to adapt. Firstly, is the physical aspect and the mental aspect. Then, the golf course which is constantly changing, and each course being different. Add to that the pressure we put on ourselves the minute we go from a social hit to scoring!

                As I reached total frustration point a couple of weeks ago, Einstein’s definition of insanity came to my mind. There I was, doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

                What else have I learnt?

                What I do know is that engaging a coach who can teach, guide, motivate and cheerlead me is the best thing I’ve done so far. Thank you Brent @westwickgolfcoaching for being patient but challenging.

                I need to do new learning to improve. I need to be open to little things like subtle physical changes that actually make a big difference. And I need to be open to big things like the mindset I have when I walk up to the first tee. Gee that makes more difference than I ever thought possible.

                Along with new learning comes the need to unlearn things.

                Some of this involves experimenting. For me, it’s also about not being so stubborn and letting go of what is no longer serving me to be a better golfer.

                Like any decent adaptive challenge it’s about the adaptation not the technical challenge. I have everything technically to be a really good golfer – new clubs and lots of golf presents I received this Christmas. But that only gets me so far. Adapting to new behaviours is the hard stuff.

                We tend to avoid any sort of adaptive work because it is hard. We hold onto the past. We displace responsibility and blame others – our coach, the clubs, the weather! We deny that the change is all on us and we focus on getting all the technical stuff right but not really changing.

                So, like with any good adaptive challenge whether in leadership, life or golf, I am more focussed now on making progress than getting it perfect. And regardless of the little frustrations, when I feel more like I am going backwards rather than forwards, I love the learning process. I love getting out in the fresh air and I love problem solving to overcome obstacles.

                And as a bonus, Angela and I are learning together – here is a photo from our lesson last week with our amazing coach Brent!

                I’d love to hear about your current adaptive challenges – in leadership and in life.

                Michelle Sales/08 February 2022