One of my kids is going through a particularly rough patch in life right now, which has led to a lot of long, tearful mother-daughter chats. After feeling woefully inadequate as a mom during one such recent conversation, I was giving some thought to the idea of mistakes and how we deal with them. My daughter was expressing regret over what she sees as a big mistake that she’s made. I don’t view the situation the same way, but that hardly matters; it’s how she sees herself that counts. With time to ruminate on the topic, I was reminded of a speech I heard long ago that might have offered the kid some comfort, had I thought of it in the moment, which of course I did not, but that’s how it always happens, right?
Several years ago, my family attended a charity golf tournament hosted by Bubba Watson. If you’re not a golf aficionado, you might not have heard of him, but if you are, you know that Bubba is a fantastically talented golfer who is known for his crazy shots and his crazy temper. He’s been working on the latter, though, and in this case, he was addressing a bunch of young people (it was a junior tournament), and he was nothing but sweet and funny and, to me, quite profound. The statement that really struck a chord was this (as best as my aging brain can recall): “It’s not about the great shots you hit—because there won’t be very many of those—but about what you do with the bad ones that matters.”
Of course, Bubba was talking about golf when he said that, but I was looking at the bigger picture. Couldn’t we say the same about life in general? We all make mistakes; we all dream of do-overs and take-backs for those moments we wish had never happened, but in real life, do-overs aren’t allowed. Make-ups are. We can carry on from where we went astray and try to fix the problem. We can view the mess we’re in as a challenge to be tackled. And we can use our knowledge of the past to avoid similar messes in the future. We can learn, and we can grow, and we can act as mentors to others who are digging their way out of the mire.
What the heck good would life be if every ball was lying dead-center in the middle of the fairway? Would anybody even bother to play? Would we even bother to get out of bed in the morning? Life is full of challenges, people. Every mistake is an opportunity to overcome. You say your ball is tucked fifty yards into the woods, around a blind curve, and covered with pine straw? Embrace it! Rise to the occasion. Do what Bubba did and hit it out with a crazy curve shot, straight onto the green, then make the putt to win the Masters.