I love the game of golf. I've been trying to play it since the tender age of 12. In that time, my game has vacillated from at times decent to down right inept, from cheering moments of pure beauty to silent pauses of genuine ugliness.
Mentally, I've migrated from a club throwing, club mangling, bundle of tantrum driven frustration to a Zen-like state of acceptance that most of my shots simply will not come off. I've managed to fool myself into a state of reverse psychology whereby I expect the bad shot and am delighted with the rare good execution.
This exercise in self-delusion allows me to enjoy the game, the company I'm playing with and the generally beautiful areas where golf courses tend to be. Interestingly, accepting golf as a journey rather than a destination actually helps in the playing as well.
Taking each shot as it comes seems to reduce my number of really ugly efforts. Don't get me wrong—the nasty duck or banana is still lurking. But now when it rears its head the results are more localized. Rather than dwell on the bad shot, and angrily proceed to hit several more, I try to shrug it off and recover.
Unlike many other sports where there are outside agents such as teammates, umpires, referees, judges and other third parties to transfer blame for bad results, golf is all about the golfer. Oh it would be so nice to have an official to yell at when a well-struck tee shot lands in the fairway, takes a bad bounce and nestles down into the rough under a lovingly, manicured bush. The golf expression for this is "rub of the green." It means that a golfer must accept the bad breaks along with the good.
That brings me around to the point of this column. In many ways we experience some ups and downs in life like the ups and downs in golf. When it gets down to individuals, many of us involved in metalworking are like golfers.
In spite of the best talent, effort and preparation, sometimes things don't go as planned. It's the ability to deal with the bad bounce that makes the manufacturing professional special and creative. Like a successfully executed Phil Mickelson flop shot, it's how we recover from adversity that counts.
Much of what gets done in the shop or front office is the result of individual efforts. In spite of all the team-based initiatives popular in shops today, when push comes to shove, it's individual execution that gets the work out the door. Professional manufacturers understand the vagaries of our unique business and realize this concept of "rub of the green."