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3 keys when life bounces you into the trees

Updated: Mar 9


As a young golfer, my coach Dave “Bing” Bingham would always smile at me when my ball bounced into the trees. At first, that smile would frustrate me because my plan was to hit the fairway, and then he invited me to see the bigger picture. He would say “the best way to learn how to hit the low fade is when there are trees in front of you”. He further insisted that every time I went into the trees, it was an opportunity to come out better than I was going in:

Those experiences with Bing taught me three things:

  1. Remain in control of your attitude if you want to play your best, especially if your game goes into unexpected places. With the right attitude, you can execute new approaches which builds your confidence hitting different shots.


Keep your imagination working to find creative approaches from the trees back to the green. Your imagination can find unexpected pathways which may be useful another time on the course.

  1. Be versatile (antifragile) when you face unexpected bounces. Anyone can play great golf on those very rare occasions when everything is bouncing favorable. However, the most successful players find a way to play well even when they get the unexpected bounces from the course (aka: “rub of the green”)

My coach Bing clarified that golf gives us workouts like this so we can build muscle memory around those three keys. The upside is when we handle those unexpected challenges well, we come out of the trees better than we were going into them!

This ALSO rings true in our business lives! When we are planning for professional success and life bounces us into the trees unexpectedly, we have the same opportunity to come back better:

  1. Remain in control of your attitude in life if you want to build confidence and be your best self. As Zig Ziglar taught: “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.” You will gain from it if you choose to.

  2. Keep your imagination working when faced with unexpected professional obstacles because your


imagination can create brand new approaches to problems which will be useful later.

  1. You must be versatile (antifragile) to be a successful professional these days. The business world is more dynamic than ever, and full of unexpected obstacles. Anyone can do well when everything is going right. However, the successful professionals are the ones that best handle the unexpected, rather than freeze in frustration when things go of script.

Life gives us “workouts” like this for the same reason golf does – so we can build important muscle memory and come back better than we were going into the trees. 

You are likely dealing with adversity right now. Life has bounced many of us into the trees unexpectedly. So my question is – how will you smile and come back better this time?


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