Loosen the Grip

Most beginners grip the club like they could strangle it, swing hard and hope for the best.  The best golfers know that a loose grip, as light as you would hold a bird, is the secret to long, straight ball flight, and control.

Loosening the grip is a great lesson for capturing joy and purpose in our lives.  I often suffer from a pre-occupation with order, control, safety, pleasure and certitude.  I am wired to keep things in their place, and I know this prevents me from noticing true beauty, pure friendship or just the joy of ‘being’.

Here are a few thoughts on the value of loosening our grip, in order to live our best lives:

  1. Unfinished symphony:  the symphony that is our lives will never be finished1.  Most of us have unlimited desires for experiences, travel, wealth, career success, friends and family wellness – yet, we are all limited by time and resources.  I dined with a wealthy businessman who said he wanted to see it all, buy it all, and do it all.   While he said it with excitement and pride, I chose not to partner with him; I knew he would never be satisfied with anything we accomplished together.  This restlessness can become an obsession, or we can loosen our grip a bit and realize that we actually cannot do and see it all – and move our focus to enjoying the journey.
  2. Find the flow:  while I love to get things done, I have found that often I don’t need to push all the time to accomplish bigger things.  While I still set goals and deadlines, I believe that things get done with excellence when I am not fighting but flowing with a project.  I suggest you do some introspection to uncover what things make you flow – whether it is creativity, financial or musical expression.  When I desire to be innovative on a project I gather a team around me so we can collaborate and build on one another.  When I am working on my own development, presentation or a creative project – I like to be alone, in a quiet place (an airplane, my home office) where I find the flow of my skills.  
  3. Make Mistakes: I used to worry about making a mistake and thought of it as a failure.  As an individual performer and a leader I have come to not fear mistakes, but to understand that they will happen.  I know that I am good at what I do, so I have learned to think less about what could go wrong, and more about the vision I want to create – and go for it.   I often see young leaders bogged down from fear of failure. My coaching is that they will likely not get negative repercussions from trying and failing, but rather from not attempting to solve problems. The best entrepreneurs succeed because they are not afraid to make mistakes; they keep going through and over obstacles and issues – no matter what.
  4. Be You: I believe God created us each uniquely, with a set of talents, weaknesses and gifts.  Instead of striving to be something else, I have found joy in realizing my own strengths and weaknesses – and doing my best with what I have been given. Tolstoy once said that ‘everyone thinks about changing humanity, but no one thinks about changing themselves’.   I think God smiles when we seek to understand and then work in our own giftings, finding grace in just being ourselves.  
  5. Cut Drag: my business partner and I often talk about cutting away things that slow us down.  You have seen athletes that train by dragging a tire behind them – so they can feel the speed and freedom when they run the race without that drag.  For me this means being very selective about who you spend time with, what you say yes (and no) to and how you set your calendar.  I suggest that you examine what creates drag in your life and consider cutting it out.  Is it someone in your life that always brings you down or is disingenuous, a possession that takes up too much time vs the joy it gives you, or is time spent in front of a screen taking away time with your loved ones?   Saying no is often hard, but people will understand if you have intentionally set your priorities.

The author and Franciscan monk Richard Rohr shares a perspective about loosening the grip in our relationship with God.  He says that we cannot force a relationship with our Maker, but that the union is already there – we just have an issue believing we are accepted2.  I like the way his thinking flows – if we let go, believe our God accepts us, then we can enjoy being ourselves and find grace and peace in being ‘just this’ – and know that ‘this’ purpose and unique set of gifts is sufficient and the design of the world.

  1. Quote often attributed to Jesuit theologian Karl Rahner
  2. Richard Rohr; Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life