OBSESSION TRUMPS LOVE
How did your child become exposed to golf? In most cases, it was an introduction via a parent whose love for the game was something they wanted to share with their child. Why wouldn’t they? I myself have enjoyed many games of golf with my son in the same way I enjoyed many games with my father. We are lucky to be involved with a sport that can align with your standard of play via tee box placements and handicap adjustments; in other words, the course will give you a break. Age is not a barrier.
I had a piece of advice once that was very helpful to me in a particular situation. The advice was, and slightly contrary to movie The Empire Strikes Back:
‘Nick, you are not your father’.
For now, the context of this wisdom will remain silent, but in essence it was a truth that freed me up and allowing me to function at a higher level.
For the purpose of this essay:
‘Dear Parent, your child is not you’.
Now why do I write this?
Because in my thirty plus year of consulting in peak performance golf, I have witnessed many parents unwittingly urge and attempt to persuade their offspring that they love the game. If there is a truth to life, it would be that you cannot gain love by demand. Furthermore, you cannot push someone into love; they have to deliriously fall.
So if it’s not love you’re looking for, what does give you the hunch that your child’s progression is worth further investment and parental commitment?
The giveaway sign is Obsession.
If you look the everyday person on the street, they would have what you would call a passing interest in most things. The attention to detail they would give to a range of subjects would be on a macro level, that is to say….. a wide and not too exploratory interest in a range of subjects. There would be people walking that same street however who have hobbies or interests drawing their attention in on a micro level. Obsessive gardeners insist on the best food for their plants knowing every ingredient. Obsessive astronomers will tell you all the stars in our galaxy while the passive onlooker is happy gazing at the moon. Obsessive movie goers can tell you everything about a film, from the actors to the makeup artist while recreational movie goers are happy just to take in the cinematic experience.
So to be clear, a passive participant in any walk of life keeps the subject matter at arm’s length; in contrast, the obsessive individual zooms right into the finite detail.
If your child is indeed zooming into golf, what evidence of this will be obvious?
- Little interest in group activity.
- Constant cleaning and maintaining of equipment.
- Practicing (even in the house) without being asked.
- Dressing in a similar vein to their on screen idols.
- Modelling the technique of better players.
- Highly focused during any golf instruction they receive.
- Vivaciously reading golf material.
- Moody-ness when their performance doesn’t match their expectation.
Now you might turn around and say ‘Well, all of those activities fall into a ‘love’ category too’. And you would be correct, all of them could signify love over obsession, but what makes the difference is the intensity of the above. Now consider the below again:
- Little interest in group activity (will be irritated by interruptions).
- Constant cleaning and maintaining of equipment (informed of very latest technology).
- Practicing (even in the house) without being asked (golf will take priority over everything else including homework).
- Dressing in a similar vein to their on screen idols (building their identity).
- Modelling the technique of better players (a trait copied by most future achievers).
- Highly focused during golf instruction (quiet in demeanor and thus internalizing everything that is being said and demonstrated).
- Vivaciously reading golf material (demonstrating themselves to be a true student of the game).
- Moody-ness when their performance does not match their expectation (as the internal picture of themselves develop, the more they hold themselves accountable).
So if the first list didn’t provide you with some clues, the second list should give you a little more evidence to be able to recognize.
Can you turn love or a passing interest in the game into obsession? It is very difficult to generate that intensity since it’s the complex blend of axioms and neuro chemistry that catch one’s attention to such an intense degree.
The metric to measure the obsessive gene is parental investment. This may help:
For the child who is obsessed, parental influence is at its least.
For the child who loves golf, parental influence will be recreationally paced with relaxed atmosphere.
For the child who has nothing but a passing interest, parental influence might have to include carrot and stick rewards.
And for the child who’d rather being playing on a Xbox or PlayStation, parental influence will be a desperate and sad attempt at best.
All the best – Nick.