This weekend, at the Abu Dabi Championship, Rory McIlroy made his first hole-in-one as a professional golfer. A remarkable shot. I don’t know what the odds are of making a hole-in-one but I imagine that they’re linked to how many shots you hit in total over your playing career. The more you play, the more chance there is that you’ll score one. However, there are many stories of people who have not been playing for very long who manage to join the exclusive club of Ace Scorers. There is something magical about scoring one though. All golfers dream of making the perfect shot. Watching the ball fly through the air, land on the green, maybe bounce once or twice and then roll towards the hole and drop in. It just takes that one great shot. Golfers of all abilities have been known to make them. This reminded me of my painful hole-in-one experience.
I’ve been playing golf for about 14 years now. Lately I don’t play as many rounds as I did when I started but I absolutely love the game. A while back I was playing a practice round on my own. I had the afternoon to myself and couldn’t find a playing partner but decided to go out anyway. It was a beautiful clear day in Cape Town. I was enjoying the practice. The course was quiet and I was able to take my time and consider every shot. I started on the back 9 and reached the 16th hole (my 7th). On this course (Bellville Golf Club) the 16th is a par 3 of about 140 metres. It is slightly downhill and, on this day, the flag was towards the centre-back portion of the green. I selected my trusty 8-iron, took a couple of practice swings, addressed the ball and swung. A nice connection. The ball flew through the air and landed near the front of the green to the right of the flag. It took a friendly bounce and started rolling towards the hole. I watched in silence. The ball went in. I shouted with delight. Then I screamed in anguish. No!!!! Why now? No witnesses. It doesn’t count. No!!! When I called up some of my golfing friends, they were more amused than sympathetic. My neighbour even made the comment that most people only make one in their whole lives and I made mine without anyone to see. A couple of months later I was there when he made his one. I’ve witnessed 3 other holes-in-one but have yet to make another myself. On that day I vowed to never again play golf on my own. :-).
But enough about me. Rory’s ace reminded me of my hole-in-one story (I’d love to hear others, so please share them in the comments if you have one) but it also got me thinking more generally. There’s that old saying about the tree in the forest. The golfing version would be something like ‘If a hole-in-one is scored when you’re alone, did the ball go in the hole?’ If you’ve achieved a dream and you’ve played that perfect shot but nobody is there to see it, does it count? Is this a useful analogy for non-golfers? Can it be used as an example of how to conduct yourself in normal, everyday life at work or at school or in your personal dealings with the world? I think it can. Bear with me as I try and make the connection.
The modern world, with social media and smart phones, means that we can all live our lives out in public. At any given moment, there are probably thousands of selfies being shared. Photos of meals. Photos of locations. Photos of views. People are hyper-connected. So, at some level, we crave the witnesses to our achievements. We feel as if the achievement is not as laudable if nobody knows about it. If nobody sees it. If I go to gym and don’t update my status, does the workout count? It would seem that the answer to this, like my hole-in-one, is ‘no.’ I’d like to offer an alternative viewpoint. I believe it does count. I believe that there are different ways to keep score. You don’t need to have the adulation of your friends and followers in order to make a difference with your actions. If you are doing something purely to be seen and noticed, then the something is probably not worth doing. You’re better off expending your energy elsewhere. Make the choice to make a ruckus because you can. Make a ruckus because you want to. Make a ruckus because you care. Make a ruckus for yourself. You’ll start seeing a big difference in how you feel about what you’re doing on a daily basis. The outside world doesn’t care about your achievements as much as you think. They are more focused on their own. So go focus on your contribution. On your art. And feel the satisfaction that comes from that, irrespective of the approval of anyone else. You can still share it with the world, just don’t make it all about the sharing.
It’s #YourTurn to go out there and score your hole-in-one.