Win or Lose, There’s Really No Difference

Posted: April 30, 2013 in Uncategorized

Monday morning.  I’m sitting in one of my favorite cafes while people slowly trudge by outside trying to shake off the euphoria of their weekends.  Inside, the smell of coffee and breakfast foods encases me in a blanket of home cooked security.  In my mind, there’s nothing.  Actually, it’s more like, everything.  A million different thoughts sardine themselves in my head, but not a single one chooses to distinguish itself from its electrically identical brothers and sisters.

As my self allotted time ticks down, I can’t help but notice the lone TV showing “Tin Cup” on the Golf Network.  Weird choice for a coffee shop, unless you knew that Tiger was on the prowl a mere 24 hours earlier only to give way to an Angel and an Aussie.

 If you’re not familiar with the movie, don’t fret because I’m not either.  I honestly only know one scene from the whole movie and its one that I’ve seen over and over again.  I’m sure I’ve seen the whole movie at one point, but one particular scene has always separated itself from the rest of the movie.  For me, at least.

Yeah, I know.  It’s a bit ridiculous and over the top.  No one in their right mind would subject themselves to that type of torture on that stage.  At least, we don’t think anyone would.  But, you never really know.  So what makes this scene so appealing if its over the top and not at all like what someone would do in real life?  For me, it always brings up the question, what if winning isn’t everything?  What would it be like to perform without fear of failure?  I mean yeah, Roy Mcavoy lost miserably going for a magnificent shot on the final hole of the US open when all he needed to do was play it safe.  But, still.  What if?


I guess one could argue that Kevin Costner’s character is just a stubborn guy.  Maybe it was just a shot he knew he could make and he never let it get past that.  Sure going into that first attempt he knew what the stakes were.  But the point is that once he hit the first ball, all the illusions about the shot were lifted.  And it definitely helped that after a certain point he knew he wasn’t going to win, so it was easy to just keep trying to hit that shot.  After all that, it just seemed like something that he could do and he wanted prove to himself that he could do it regardless of the stakes.


And I suppose that comes down to being able to strip everything away.  To take all the illusions, the accolades and admiration you could possibly get, and completely ignore them.  To make that US Open shot mean the same to you as any one shot in a practice round or the driving range.  And do it because you just want to find out if you can achieve excellence in every aspect you find important.


But that’s the kicker.


It has to be excellent in only the ways you decide.  Not the ways that anyone else does.  Can some of those factors be the same on a basic level as anyone else?  Sure.  But only you really know what those things mean to you.  And only under those circumstances will the act be truly authentic.


In Roy’s case, he thought he hit a great shot on his first try and he thought the wind had kept him from staying on the green.  For some people, they would stop at that and consider it bad luck.  Not Roy.  He knew he had it in him to duplicate that effort.  Now, to be honest I’m not sure what his character was like in the rest of the movie, but anyone can relate to trying to creating the perfect moment.  Whether its the perfect golf swing, painting, song or note, or the perfect line to say to that girl that walked into the bar 20 minutes ago and has had every guy’s attention from the first bat of her eyelashes.  When it feels right, no one can take that away from you.  The trick is figuring out how to consistently create those great moments for yourself and those around you, regardless of what else is at stake.


To get to my ultimate and longwinded point, let me introduce you to Miyamoto Musashi.  He was legendary swordsman in feudal MiyamotoMusashiJapan.  He was also known for never being defeated in dozens of duels with other swordsman.  Seeing as how a fair number of these duels ended in death, that is a major accomplishment.  He went on to retire from sword fighting and wrote down some of his teachings in a book called, The Book of Five Rings.


In it, he describes his approach to combat which he calls, The Way.  He writes that we all can learn The Way, but that it doesn’t necessarily have to be through sword fighting (He also practiced other arts such as calligraphy and painting).  The book is mostly Musashi’s teachings on strategy and combat but one particular line seems to echo how he viewed everything in life:


“If you know The Way broadly, you will see it in all things.”


Now, The Way he refers to is more or less his skill in combat.  The way that most people seemed to have interpreted this is that, if you can figure out how to learn and eventually master a particular craft to the point that it is an extension of you and only you; that same method can be applied to all walks of life and in ways that are authentic to who you are.  You could even do this with say, a golf swing.  If you try to achieve that mastery and authenticity each time you swing your club, each swing becomes the most important swing you can make.


So imagine putting that much focus into each and every swing of your club.  In theory this should make the meaning of every swing identical, whether its on the driving range or on the last hole of the US Open.  That is at least, from your perspective.  Cameras, sponsors and spectators can definitely give the shot more meaning outside of your approach, but that is all out of your control.  If we can harness that type of intensity and focus and put it into as many aspects of our lives possible, we can begin to create moments that are a pure representation of ourselves.

I know I know.  This one seriously has a little bit of “woo woo” to it, but let it simmer a little.  Think about the ways in which you’ve become great at your craft or passion.  There’s something that we all do well and we just have to understand how we got there.  Then think about how you can apply that to another aspect of your life.

Find your Way.  Then figure out how it applies to everything else.  Simple.  But not easy.  Definitely not easy.  Be patient and observe what goes on around you with all of this in mind.  You may be pleasantly surprised to find that there are many similarities in the world and that your Way may indeed be in all things.

… And once you find that, you’ll also realize that your Way is not The Way of all things, either.  But more on that another time.  Thanks for reading guys.


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