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Golf as a metaphor for life

Category: Random Thoughts
Date: 2004-03-24

Recently, I've been reading The Inner Game of Golf by W. Timothy Gallewey. It has spurred some interesting thoughts on life and golf. The reading spawned the following formula, which I created to express my golf game:

W = P1 - P2

W is "What Matters"
P1 is Performance
P2 is Potential

Thus in golf, and I will assert in all of life, what matters is the difference between our performance and our potential. Right now, given the instruction and basic skills I've acquired in golfing, I believe that my potential is "9" that is in playing 9 holes my potential is to be 9 over par. My performance is not that good! As example, this morning, my performance was 13 over par. Reduced to formula:

W = P1 - P2
W = 13 - 9 = 4

So what mattered in my game was 4 strokes. I failed to reach my potential by 4 strokes. When looking back over the game, I can also identify exactly which strokes they were. The score card reveals that quite handily. They were on holes that were worse than 2 over par, obviously.

What is my potential? That is a question that deserves consideration. Because the definition reveals what is important (W = P1 - P2). It should be clear that right now my potential is not equal to that of Tiger Woods. To think so is to be a fool, because the difference between my performance and Tiger Wood's performance is not what matters. What matters is the difference between my performance and my potential. As my skill set improves, so will my potential. But for now, I'll define my potential as a 9.

Golf as a Life Metaphor
Applying the formula W = P1 - P2 to other situations also seems intuitively to be appropriate. To answer the question: "What matters in my marital relationship?", for instance:

W = P1 - P2

While this evaluation is certainly more subjective than the golfing example, I believe that introspection will reveal the answer. For instance lets score some attributes of a loving relationship. In a loving relationship, I will demonstrate (among others) the following behaviors:

- Attentiveness to my partner
- Honest communications
- Faithfulness
- Championing her causes

Further, on an arbitrary scale of 0-10, let us say that my potential is 10 in each of these categories. Upon introspection, I may find that my performance is

Attentiveness - 8
Honest communications - 10
Faithfulness - 10
Championing her causes - 7

Then what matters (in maintaining and enhancing the relationship based on these attributes) is 40 - (8 + 10 + 10 + 7 ) = 5.

There are at least 5 things I can work on to be a better performer in this area. My priority for improvement would be "Championing her causes" and "Attentiveness".

Becoming a bogey golfer might be easier, but both goals are worthy, and paying attention to "what matters" is always important!

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