Life Lessons from the Game of Golf

Life Lessons from the Game of Golf

I was 20 when I started to learn golf. I remember being obsessed with the game. Playing as often as possible, reading how to books, and taking as many clients on the course as possible.

The best game I ever played was at River Run in Maryland. I finished seven over par, I was 25. At 26 my company at the time, MCI Telecommunications, had a golf outing with our global accounts on Long Island New York, and my foursome won 1st place.

I struggled to get good at golf, mostly because of negative ego, which is rooted in low self-worth. I’ve revealed my struggles with self-worth in my new book “Emotionally Aware Leadership”, the impact it had on my leadership development, and how I eventually cracked the code to becoming a better leader by tapping into consistent high self-worth.

One of the ways the negative ego manifested itself was in this sense I had of not being good enough to play with the experts. I was more concerned about how I would “look”, than the benefit I would get from being around experts and learning how to play better. 

I was afraid to be vulnerable. I was afraid to admit that I didn’t know something, that I would be judged as not good enough. I think back to so many opportunities for growth that I had, where I let my ego get in the way by needing to look like I had it all together. 

I want to help others not make the same mistake and miss out on growth opportunities. I did learn an important lesson from golf about life and leadership. 

“In the game of golf, the only competition you face is yourself.”

The greatest golfer does not analyze how another golfer plays, he/she works on improving his/her own game by developing consistent habits that generate consistent good results.

The really smart golfers, take tips, own that it’s a game requiring constant growth and learning, and they don’t let ego get in the way of improving their game when others offer up constructive criticism.

The same is true in life, isn’t it? The more open we are to learn, the humbler we remain, the more fulfilled we become as we grow and become better than we were the day before.

Sadly, much like when I was in my 20s and 30s, many people spend a great deal of time figuring out how to become better than others or look like they have it all together. There is a fundamental problem with this strategy.

The problem is that you are essentially fooling yourself and holding yourself back from growing. By competing with others, you end up within a zero-sum strategy. You go after your slice of the pie, but there is only so much to go around. You end up having to force someone out of the game, and ultimately the same can happen to you.

What’s the alternative?

When you focus on your own game, and you stay open to growing, learning and being adaptive, you gain the brilliance and means to create new values. Being humble and hungry for growth will enable you to add something to the pie that is missing… making the pie bigger.

Widening the pie benefits you, and others too. If more people adopted this mindset, we would never experience economic downfalls and more people would experience prosperity.

Much like the game of golf, for us to experience sustainable success in life, requires we focus on developing ourselves to be consistent, productive, resilient, and above all people who add value to others.

“Focusing on adding values makes you a creator, while focusing on competing and beating others makes you a taker.”

When we are in creator mode, anything can be accomplished, when we go into taker mode, we might experience temporary gains in life, but we will ultimately experience chaos. It’s built into the taker operating system.

The economic crash we had in 2008 was a testament of what happens when we consume more than we produce, when we take more than we give. The only way for it to never happen again, is to become beings of creative and giving forces, vs. beings that need stuff to be happy.

The crash came from the need to compete in a zero-sum proposition world. If you are not actively adding value, you are taking from the pie and eventually this causes recessions, and depressions.

The key ingredient to growing as an individual is much like improving your golf game. Focus on yourself, develop your own qualities, become consistent, productive, improve your own game. The winner in golf is not the one who beats the other players, the winner is the one who worked on improving his/her own game. The winner is the one who day in and day out, outdoes his/her old game the most. Period!

“In life, winning means outdoing your old self, your old ways, your old strategy, your old views, and more importantly the way you view yourself.” 

You are either someone who needs validations or gives it

Because of our ego’s desire to be validated, respected, and loved… we can focus on looking good, so others think well of us, and we lose sight of the real game, growing as a human being. Evolving to be better, more loving, more giving, more compassionate, more authentic.

When we focus on just improving ourselves, becoming better than we were the day before, there is no other outcome but a winning outcome. Validation, respect and love are all verbs; they are actions that need to come from the inside out, not the other way around.

When a great golfer is losing, he/she does not use the excuse that “the wind” caused me to lose, the great golfer admits, I did not develop a strategy within myself to not let the wind dictate my game.

In life the wind is what others think of us. If you go outside on a windy day and try chasing it… you’ll never catch it and you will find yourself exhausted trying, but if you focus on being better grounded within yourself, you won’t even know the wind is there.

You will have control of the outcome of your own game, and since we’ve already discussed that that game is focused on adding value to the pie by creating values for others, everyone will win along with you.

You might win or lose in a golf game competition with other players, but as long as you are focused on outdoing yourself day in and day out, you are winning at the bigger game — the game of life.

Scarcity is an Illusion

Scarcity is an Illusion

It’s tempting and easy to choose to see life as a glass half empty or half full. It’s also easy to judge having more or less, as either being full or empty. Abundance or scarcity. Are these two opposite realities something that happens in the mind, or do they manifest in real life in measurable ways?

The answer to both questions is yes. But the more important question is what comes first, the reality or the state of mind? In what order do they happen?

There are many streams of consciousness that make a strong case for whatever we manifest, first starting in the mind. Our state of being, what we focus on, our desires become reality.

I think someone who struggles with poverty, hunger, disease, and other forms of lack, is not likely to agree with the concept that he/she has manifested those things out of desire.

I am here to make the argument that we never lack anything at all. Whatever the situation we are in, there is something we are getting from it. Aware of it consciously or not, we are getting something from the circumstance we are in.

We get energy from being in whatever situation we are in. We get energy from the reasons we aren’t making millions. We get energy from why we are not with our soulmates. We get energy from why we are not healthy. We get energy from anger. We get energy from sadness. We get energy from everything we choose to experience.

Why does this happen?

Because we value the situation we are in, albeit not consciously aware of it, more than the energy we would get from changing the situation. Breaking from poverty is hard work, it’s going all in and then some. If it was easy to break free of poverty, there would be no poverty. It’s hard to break free, but not impossible.

We are materialized energy, and we are always full, it’s a matter of understanding what motivates us, but we are never at the mercy of anything outside of ourselves.

“We are the producers, directors, and actors of our own reality show — life”

Everything starts with desire, but desire without actions is just that… desire. What we manifest in our lives is a reflection of our strongest desires, conscious and unconscious, followed by our actions, voluntary or robotic.

Overcome the need to be served

Energy is not static, energy is always flowing, it is either flowing to serve you in a positive way, or it is flowing to serve you in a negative way. Energy in its self has no purpose without consciousness. You are the source of your energy, and you are the container of your energy at the same time.

We are either filling ourselves with outcomes that propel us forward, or we are filling ourselves with things like depression, procrastination, sadness, anger, resentment, and judgments. Let’s call these container of energy “sabotage robots.”

How energy flows in our lives, depends greatly on whether we are beings who like to give and serve, or beings who like to receive and be served. The reality is that to experience true prosperity in all aspects of our lives we need to be both, and at any given moment we are both.

One of my Buddhist mentors, who was with the Dalai Lama for a decade said to me once: “Tullio to deny the animal inside you, is to deny the divine inside you.”

Our life’s purpose is to balance our animalistic consciousness with our higher consciousness. It’s a dance that if done correctly creates a balanced and fulfilling life.

Knowing that we are constantly in a state of giving and receiving, can help understand why at times we could manifest scarcity. When nothing that we perceive as good is serving us, we turn to those robots we’ve created called “sabotage.”

Our animalistic sub-consciousness reasons like this: “I can’t afford that new toy right now, because I don’t have the money working for me and therefore I don’t have the means to fill my need for happiness right now, so I am going to have sadness serve me because I need something to fill me, something to give me energy.”

There is energy in sadness, depression, anger, resentment, judgment… they are sources of incredible energy; those energy containers are not external of you, you created them and put them on reserve to come and serve you when you are feeling low on energy… so you deploy those robots who come and give you the feeling of control.

“Scarcity can be a form of temporary misdirected fulfillment, whenever we choose not to do the work needed to truly feel joy.”

This realization causes one of three things: Flight, freeze, or fight responses. Those who choose to fight, one by one begin to realize that leading a measurably productive, and accountable life as covered in my last blog is about pouring energy outward not only into containers, but into pipes that drive the progress and improvement of humanity.

A pipe has an entry and exit point, it is endlessly flowing. When we choose to let energy flow through us, instead of rest with us, we create synergy with the Universe. We create an endlessly supply of energy because we are actively sharing it, not hoarding it.

“The more you seek to be served, the more the sabotage robots are given permission to take over your life.”

When you become inner to outer directed, with the purpose of being a value creator for others, those sabotage robots begin to die. It’s kind of like when you are growing a lawn, the best way to kill the weeds, isn’t to pull them… weeds thrive on space.

You plant more healthy seeds and as the good grass thickens the weeds choke and die automatically, because you are removing space.

It’s very simple actually, what you give energy to determines your state of mind, and the related actions you take determine your mood. If you are not producing, you are taking.

The sabotage robots in the taking mode of operation are: One-time shots/blast of energy such as, alcohol, drugs, no strings attached sex, anger, resentment, depression, doubts…

These are all intended to fill an emptiness within for that moment, but long-term emptiness cannot be filled from the outside, it can only be filled by emanating positive energy (planting more good grass).

Fill a void without filling it

When it comes to your state of being, much like the weeds in the grass growth example, you remove the space between the good energy you put out and the voids, by giving more positive energy outward.

“Only in emanating what we desire to experience, can we actually experience it.”

The voids in our lives don’t need to be filled, they need to simply be eliminated by creating more outwardly focused pipes of energy. If you have a plot of land that is empty, you don’t fill it with grown fruit trees, for they might live one season and die the next, you plant the seed, water it, and then you let something called nature take its course.

The seed of the trees are then rooted and participate in the process of growth in the plot of land they were planted in, they were not transplanted, and hence they can keep giving fruit, year after year.

When you create those positive energy pipes, all you do is plant the seed, and water (work towards the realization of those goals) but the actual outcome is not within your hands, the outcome already exists, just like a fruit tree is already existent within the seed.

How well the tree manifests and produces fruit is based on the farmer’s (you) actions, and then the course of nature (reality), which sustains the tree.

All around us there is energy which we are a sub-set of (reality), recognizing this principle will allow us to one by one remove the space in our lives, and stop asking the “sabotage robots” to come to our aid when we feel empty, but rather we begin to plant more positive seeds, (take more actions) realizing that we can be absolutely certain that whatever we plant, the outcome already exists in the Universal Consciousness that becomes reality.

Finally, here is one important thing to remember — the reward of living a full and joyful life isn’t fully based on the outcomes of our actions; the reward comes in being able to play an active productive and accountable role in the process. Being attached to the end results to be happy is a form of “sabotage robots’ we have created. Desire and action coupled with detachment is key.

Want to never experience scarcity? Be proactive in your process to becoming a being of action, a giving force for the betterment of humanity, but stay detached of the outcomes. In short, do your best, give your best, and that’s all.

Productivity Leads to Happiness

Productivity Leads to Happiness

hap·pi·ness /ˈhapēnəs/ noun — the state of being happy. Synonyms: contentment, pleasure, contentedness, satisfaction, cheerfulness, cheeriness, merriment, merriness, gaiety, joy, joyfulness, joyousness, joviality, jollity, jolliness, glee, blitheness, carefreeness gladness, delight, good spirits, high spirits, light heartedness, good cheer, well-being, enjoyment, felicity.

Money and Happiness

What is the relationship between money and happiness? Is money a cause, and happiness an effect? Or is money evil, and a hindrance to happiness?

Most people have heard contradictory assertions about money, ranging from “money makes people happier” to “money is the root of all evil.” Upon close examination, one can see the relationship between the two.

Money is a medium of exchange for values.

A person produces values and exchanges those values for money. The more values one produces and exchanges with others, the more money he or she can accumulate.

Then the person can use this money to produce more values, and purchase values from others. This is a very simplified explanation of wealth production.

What about happiness? Happiness is an effect. The cause of happiness is the achievement of one’s core values.

Core values are the fundamental beliefs of a person or organization. These guiding principles dictate behavior and can help people understand and companies determine if they are on the right path towards fulfilling their goals.

Say a person consciously values an enriching love relationship. That person then prepares herself to experience such a relationship. Later, she meets someone that she admires, and they initiate a relationship.

That relationship then develops into a growing love relationship. She may not explicitly grasp the dynamics involved, but she feels happy.

“Happiness is an effect. The cause of happiness is achieving one’s values.”

This presumes that a person has chosen a hierarchy of values. If a person holds money as a high value and earns it, he or she will experience happiness.

The same is true of all values, such as self-esteem, romantic love, and aesthetic pleasures. Ultimately, however, happiness along with prosperity, and romantic love, depends on one fundamental condition.

Without this condition, one will not experience abiding happiness, prosperity, or romantic love. What is that condition?

That condition is “productive accountability”.

Productive Accountability

ac·count·a·bil·i·ty /əˌkoun(t)əˈbilədē/ noun — the fact or condition of being accountable. Synonyms: responsibility, liability, answerability.

No matter how much money or material abundance we might have, productive work is essential to our happiness. Even if a person wins a billion-dollar lottery, that person would need to engage in productive accountable activities to experience abiding happiness.

Why would even a billionaire need to engage in productive accountable activities to achieve abiding happiness?

Wouldn’t that billionaire be able to buy his/her way to happiness?

Wouldn’t that person derive happiness from the unlimited access and consumptions to material goods?

The reason every adult human being needs to engage in productive accountable work is for physical and psychological survival. Higher causes or altruistic reasons or duty to one’s family, community, or nation are a bonus, but at the most basic level — we need to create in order to survive.

We don’t engage in productive work because of tacit or expressed obligations to others. The only reason to engage in productive work is for our own physical and psychological survival.

In the case of the billionaire, or any individual who is financially independent, he or she still needs to be productive in order to experience happiness. The individual who becomes financially independent, no longer works for physical survival. The individual’s material needs are already taken care of. He or she works for psychological fulfillment.

Increased Self-Esteem

Productive work can deliver the self-esteem that is needed for psychological survival. Sexual conquests cannot deliver the self-esteem needed for psychological survival. Neither can praying, hobbies, manipulating others, drug use, criminal scores, killing, or any other activity.

In the long run, the avoidance of productive work leads to the subconscious thought, “I wish I was dead.” It causes neurosis!

“Productive accountable work is the foundation of happiness.”

Productivity is also the foundation of prosperity. Productive work is indispensable to human beings. Producing more values than one consumes is the essence of a productive accountable and happy life.

Equally important is that no one can dictate to others what work to engage in. For some people’s productive work might consist of landscaping, painting, composing music, or writing. For others, these may simply be hobbies.

Others might choose teaching, healing, or engineering as their means of productive work. The guiding principle here is that productive work requires a long-range perspective, rational goals, a focused mind, and consistent effort.

We need to approach productive work rationally to experience abiding prosperity and happiness. This applies to all productive work, including janitorial work, sales, artwork, building a business, or any other productive activity, including philanthropy.

If productive work is the foundation for all abiding happiness and earned prosperity, and essentially everyone wants to be happy and prosperous, why doesn’t everyone engage in productive work?

There is a two-part answer to this question.

The first part deals with a deeply personal matter. That personal matter is a choice every human being on the planet has to make. Each person has to make the choice to exert the consistent effort that productive work demands. In essence, each individual human being has to make the following choice: to exert consistent effort or default to laziness.

The second part of the answer is a cultural issue. The culture in the upside-down command and control world cleverly works to foster laziness, co-dependency on others, incompetence, and criminal thinking.

A lot of people want to live like a billionaire without earning it, and just have a good old time consuming more than they produce. This unfortunately does not create self-happiness for the long haul.

The command and control culture subtly spreads a dependency attitude in the minds of people. As people absorb this cleverly promoted attitude throughout their life, they subconsciously accept it.

People begin to think it is “cool” to take it easy, sit back, and let others do the work. Those who exert the constant high effort needed for value production are labeled as uncool, overachievers, workaholics, or other disparaging names.

Treat People with Dignity

When I was a child, I depended on my parents to survive. As I became an adult, I learned to depend on myself. I was lucky. My father taught me the value of being productive as a teenager. While my friends were having a good time partying, I was being taught the value of money by contributing to the mortgage, and household expenses.

My mom and dad didn’t need the money, and at the time, I could not stand my father for asking me to contribute like 80% of my part-time hard-earned money towards living expenses. I was 17. Years later, I thanked my dad for teaching me responsibility, but more importantly for letting me earn my fulfillment in life and grow to appreciate the importance of self-reliance, and productive work.

“My dad treated me like an adult early in life, in order for me to become one.”

When you treat people like adults who are capable of taking care of things, you give them the freedom they need to break away from co-dependency. You give them the freedom to find their own way in life. You give them the ability to earn their own fulfillment. You give them the ability to create happiness in their lives. You give people their dignity.

This is not just a theory. There are companies today who have embraced freedom at work, and who treat employees as co-creators, as adults. The results are companies outperforming the S&P by a factor of 10X and very low attrition rates.

At Nearsoft, for example, we have approximately 3% attrition year to date. We’ve been treating our co-creators as adults for over a decade. Our people are engaged, free, super productive and happy.

“Freedom to be productive on our own terms leads to a happy life — it’s that simple.”

Get Out of the Funk

Productivity will get you out of a funk too. I recently got a call from a member of my men’s circle of eight years ago. He shared with me how he didn’t make consistent effort to being productive over the past 40 working years of his life.

As a result, he is not in a favorable place in his life right now. He is going through a divorce, is nursing an injury, isn’t working as a result of his injury and isn’t earning a living. He is living in the back of a construction job site, while his stuff is in storage.

I truly feel for him because he is being hit by a perfect storm. He shared with me how guilty he feels needing help, when a family member is dealing with stage three cancer. I simply replied to him: “Your perfect storm feels to you like you are fighting stage three cancer doesn’t it?” Everything we experience in life is relative to how we perceive things and our state of consciousness.

I talk about my own perfect storm in my new book “Emotionally Aware Leadership”, and how it was a gift in my life. A wake-up call.

After hearing him pitying himself, and shaming himself, and being a victim, I simply asked him: If you went to sleep and woke up tomorrow with clear vision of what you need to do, what would that be?

By sharing with him my own perfect storm experience I was able to help him realize he isn’t the only man in the world, who has had to reinvent himself.

After more conversation, we agreed on him getting his living situation in order first. Just the sense of him having to be productive towards a goal, instead of sitting around feeling sorry for himself, gave him a needed boost to feel a sense of purpose.

That sense of purpose lifted his spirits. This brings me to the final point I wish to leave you with.

If you feel stuck, not knowing what to do, being lazy in your own wallow…. feeling a little down on yourself, feeling a little less than…. the first thing you need to do, is get into action. The moment you get back to being productive, is the moment you start feeling happy again.

We Need More Wisdom

We Need More Wisdom

Are knowledge and wisdom the same thing? Both words are nouns. One is the application of experience using good judgement (wisdom), and the other is the gathering of experience (knowledge).

knowledge /ˈnäləj/ Noun — facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject.

wis·dom /ˈwizdəm/ Noun — the soundness of an action or decision with regard to the application of experience, knowledge, and good judgment.

I find it fascinating how many companies put so much stock on hiring people with knowledge, instead of people with the experience of knowing how to apply knowledge with sound judgement. 

One can easily conclude that wisdom is also about the practical application of emotional intelligence. Knowledge and wisdom empower leaders to be beacons of human dignity among all those they influence. 

If you want to be a successful leader, you have to be knowledgeable and savvy, but also invest in yourself by undertaking a system of wisdom. Some call this spirituality, others call it self-realization, the bottom line is that if you are not actively attached to a system that is focused on your higher self-realization, you are doing yourself and all those who count on you an injustice.

Whatever system works for you, take advantage of it fully, but be careful that it does not become dogmatic. When the system becomes dogmatic, meaning that you feel compelled to follow it out of fear, or blind conviction — you’ve allowed irrationality to enter your mind, and such causes corrosion of the key ingredient to practical wisdom, self-honesty.

Mastering the skills of leadership requires that one begin with self-honesty. A leader who exercises self-honesty, acquires knowledge, seeks to understand his/her motivations, and is committed to self-mastery.

Having a system of self-realization for yourself, is more important that any educational investment you can make. Becoming a wise leader is about becoming inner self-directed. Someone who is a source of positive attributes that contribute to the betterment of humanity.

Wise leaders acknowledge that they aren’t perfect. No one is, as discussed in my last blog about needing more acceptance in the world. Being wise is knowing that every day is an opportunity to learn, to explore, and to discover more about your own motivations and desires and observing your behavior with others.

Being wise requires taking stock of your relationships on a daily basis. An effective practice for checking in with yourself is to analyze your day’s activities related to other people.

You can start by asking yourself some basic questions:

Did I snap at anyone today?

a. See if you can identify what the cause of the lack of patience was. In most cases it had nothing to do with the other person.

b. Did you experience some kind of pain, or did a wound resurface that made you uncomfortable?

Did I seek opportunities to build relationships up, or did I seek to be right and win for myself?

a. See if you felt insecure about something you are struggling with that made you defensive.

b. Did you find yourself needing to be in control, instead of embracing being genuine and vulnerable?

Did I repeat patterns of behaviors that don’t represent who I really want to be?

a. See if you are being too hard on yourself expecting too much, or worse expecting perfection.

b. Did you make some improvements you can build on? Can you accept yourself as good enough?

Do I need to forgive anyone, including myself?

a. This is an opportunity to let go of making someone God over you — forgiveness is about releasing someone’s power over you.

b. Do you regularly forgive yourself? If not, what’s stopping you from doing so?

Daily self-reflections like this can open you up to gain deeper more meaningful insights into your motivations and develop a stronger connection to your inner-self.

Wisdom lives within our consciousness, it’s not about smarts, it’s about self-honesty, and self-awareness.”

The four stages of wisdom

There are four stages to developing deeper levels of wisdom, or we could simply refer to it as four stages to growing emotional intelligence.

Stage one is about the awakening of the self. This is usually preceded by a period of discontent. Usually a single and abrupt experience. It is sudden, intense, like surviving an accident, and can also be joyous like the birth of a child.

Something happens that shakes you to the core enough to cause what feels like the beginning of an awakening. You begin to question everything about your life in this stage.

If you look back at your life, chances are you’ve experienced this already. Maybe unaware of it, or blind to the gift it was at the time, till years later when you find yourself reflecting on the blessing in disguise it was.

Stage two is about the purification of the self. This is the moment, or series of moments when we come to the conclusion that “something has to change.” What follows is self-simplification and self-knowledge.

In this stage we get to that self-honest place of “let’s cut the crap and get to the facts of what I need to do” with ourselves. This stage is filled with contemplation, and feelings of not knowing what to do.

This stage is can be referred to as the grey area stage of developing wisdom. You need to be a like a magician and practice being open minded and patient, because what will emerge in terms of insights and wisdom you can apply to your life in this stage, can literally be life altering.

Stage three is about the illumination of the self. This is that moment we come to grip with and awaken to conscious reality. We accept things as they are, not as we would like to imagine them to be. 

This is the moment we stop living in the aspirational truth. This is the moment of true self-honesty where we being to benefit from the insights and a certainty about life. This is the moment of detachment from our chief entanglements. This is the moment we can begin to reorient life with a new and solid certitude. 

This is the stage where we set new standards of conduct and thought for our lives. We do a lot of introspection and turning inward deliberately to discern reality during this stage of wisdom development.

Stage four is when we reach unitive life, or union. This is that moment when we know we have reached a profound change in personality. Sages describe this stage as “The Spiritual Marriage”.

It’s at this stage you become your own authority and master. You are no longer divided but are at-one-with yourself. This is also the stage when you begin to feel compelled to make a difference in the world. You no longer have a desire to sit it out, instead you actively participate in shaping and co-creating reality.

Developing wisdom is about becoming one with your mind, body, and spirit.”

As we become more complete, more unified within ourselves, an amazing gift is bestowed to us. The gift of discernment, the gift of seeing the truth all around us.

In developing wisdom, we become a source of truth and honesty in the world, and a beacon of Light that guides not only our own way, but the way of everyone we come in contact with.

We need more wisdom in the world, so that we may shine more Light and bring about positive change for the betterment of humanity.

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