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Changing direction instead of moving forward can take real strength

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Sometimes, I really enjoy looking at things a little differently. Y’know, finding the weird evidence of something that doesn’t really jibe with the way everybody else looks at things.

Let me give you an example. For a stretch of about 10 years, Tiger Woods was the best golfer on the planet. And there were plenty of examples of his greatness — brilliant shots, clever little trick shots, clutch performances. And victories … lots of victories.

But there was one thing he did, at one point, that I have, literally, never seen anybody else do. There was this one round he was playing, and, as was always the case, the media was swarming around him. Now, normally golf media knows what they’re doing, and respects the etiquette of the game, so they contribute to the silence right before a shot. But, this one time, in the middle of Tiger’s backswing, somebody snapped a photo.

Of course, baseball players have to swing at a ball travelling 95 mph. with 40,000 screaming fans and countless cameras bulbs flashing, and they don’t bat an eye at the whole thing. But, click one camera at a golfer, and … But I digress.

At any rate, every other time I’ve seen something like that, the golfer completes his or her swing, watches the ball fly off line, and peevishly stares out at the crowd, encouraging the marshals to remove the offending paparazzo.

But not Tiger.

In mid swing, as he’s coiled to unleash his golf club at 120 m.p.h., he completely arrests the movement of the club and steps away from the ball. And then stares peevishly into the crowd, encouraging the marshals to remove the offending paparazzo.

Sometimes, it takes vastly more strength and energy to completely halt your momentum and start all over again, than it does to try to control and contain what is already headed off the rails.

Yeah, that’s a metaphor.

How many prospective brides- and grooms-to-be get to the weeks before the wedding, only to realize that they don’t believe that their marriage will work, but go through with the wedding, anyway?

How many salespeople get halfway through a presentation, start to get a strange vibe from the room, but merely plow ahead with the remainder of their prepared script?

How many columnists hack away at a column, knowing full well … uh, never mind.

How many students are on their way back to college this Fall, floundering through their program, not at all sure of what they’re doing, and accumulating more and more debt?

Why? Students, young people — your whole life is in front of you, you have endless reserves of energy and a dearth of responsibilities: don’t waste that! I understand, in fact I even support, the idea that a college degree is a valuable thing — it’s the key to the kingdom! But, to continue pursuing the thing for no reason other than that you feel like it’s what you’re supposed to be doing is like trying to finish a swing that you’ve lost control over. You might hit the ball … but it will probably go horribly off line.

It is incredibly hard to accept the reality that something you are doing is not working; it’s even harder to screech to a halt and change direction; and that presupposes that you possess the humility to be able to recognize it in the first place.

But that’s what the great ones do. You want a great life? Exercise that kind of control over your “shots.” 

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