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MentalRule: Find your purpose
by Dr. Gregg Steinberg

"What other people find in poetry or art museums, I find in the flight of a good drive : the white ball sailing up into the blue sky, reaching its apex, falling and finally dropping to the turf, just the way I planned it." Arnold Palmer

Golf in the Kingdom, one of golf's most famous spiritual novels, is a story about a student who plays a magical round of golf in Scotland. Most of the action takes place one night and is about the mentoring of the student around the course by a mystical caddie named Shivas Irons. But the book developed a huge following because it is more than just a story about a round of golf. Michael Murphy, the author and follower of Eastern philosophies, illustrates that golf can be a vehicle for human growth. Golf sets us on a path of self-examination as well as gives us a life direction when perhaps there is none.

Hal Sutton's kingdom is the golf course, but for a while he lost his crown. Hal Sutton was touted as the next Nicklaus in the early 1980's. He was a good looking kid with talent to match. In his first five years on tour, he had seven wins, including a win at the tournament of champions, as well as a win at the PGA championship where he out-dueled Nicklaus. With all that success, there was money, fame and beautiful women. Clearly, he was sitting on top of his throne for a time.

However, by the early nineties, his game fell into the dungeon of despair. All the fame and fortune seem to have sent Hal on a direction that appeared to lack meaning and purpose. As a result, Hal's game quickly plummeted, and in all his confusion, he fired his long term coach, Jimmy Ballard, as well as his long time caddie. After that, things got even worse. He nearly lost his playing privileges on the tour and by 1993, he had hit rock bottom.

As Michael Murphy tried to demonstrate in his novel, golf then gave Hal a more precious lesson that money or fame could ever buy: The game forced Hal to reexamine himself .The game placed Hal on a path of self-discovery that led to his questioning of his ideals, and values. What set the wheels in motion were four simple words his father had told him: "Find your pride, Hal".

From this soul searching recommendation, Hal realized why he played the game. He finally discovered what his purpose was on the golf course. It was not for money, it was for pride and for the love of the game. With this new self-awareness, he began his ascension back to the top ranks in the game. By the late 1990's, he was again a top player on the PGA tour. He even won the 1998 Tournament Players Championship where he out-played Tiger Woods in the final round.

Finding meaning enables you to tap into inner strengths, resources, abilities, and energies that you did not know existed. In the C Zone, Robet Kreigel interviewed 500 top performers from all areas of business, creative arts and sports and discovered they all had a purpose and were passionate about that purpose. Kreigel has written that a meaningful purpose is the single most important quality that will lift a person head and shoulders above the rest in tough times. It brings the whole being into play and centers your energy toward overcoming any arduous task.

Why do you play this great game called golf? Is it for recognition? For money? To hit great shots? To be with friends? To walk in nature? To win a $2 naussau from your friends? For pride and love of the game like Hal?

Once you find your meaning, then have an attitude and practice schedule that fits this purpose. If it is to be with friends, then make sure you enjoy the walk. If it is to be with nature, then make sure you smell the flowers along the way. If it is for recognition and money, you better start pounding balls.

Copyright Dr. Gregg Steinberg. All rights reserved.

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