Golf lessons

  • Published
  • By Col. Chris Crawford
  • 21st Space Wing commander
As the weather begins to warm and the golf course starts turning green again, I've been reflecting on the game of golf.

Golf is a great game when the weather is right and the arms are loose. As an amateur golfer for the past 35 years, I've picked up a few things about the game of golf. Lately I've also realized how much golf - and for that matter, sports in general, such as Col Arnold's daughter's volleyball team - can teach us about life and leadership.

Golf, however, has a way of providing an atmosphere of reflection not found in other games. Analogous to the game of golf, here are some of my thoughts on life for your consideration:

1. Golf with people who don't stress you out. There's probably nothing more irritating than being out on a beautiful course with people who induce stress, complain or have a generally negative attitude. Last week in his commander's commentary, Lt. Col. Paul "Bunyan" Tombarge reminded us of the value of managing stress effectively. On a golf course and in life, who you are becomes who you are around. Test this concept by observing your next game of golf: golf with people far your superior in aptitude or attitude and see how you elevate your game and/or your thinking.

2. Never, ever interrupt or talk to someone in the middle of a swing. It is the sure sign of an amateur who starts up a conversation while you're lining up for your shot. As you focus in on your putt, doing everything possible to get a 1.68" ball in a 4.25" hole, at the apex of your swing...and someone asks you about the kids. I like to compare this common courtesy to respecting those who are doing something that's never been done before - don't interfere. As George Bernard Shaw wrote, "People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."

In a large organization, sometimes you may feel like a tiny cog in a giant machine without the ability to make an impact. This is simply not true. We each have the power to act and influence change. Deep and lasting change, however, requires more than just wanting or talking about change. It requires refusing to accept no for an answer and pushing through substantial roadblocks. I was once hired for a space operator job over much more qualified individuals - simply because the commander knew me as someone who could get things done. I've mentored my company grade officer "shadows" on this concept: you will have to hear 100 people tell you "it can't be done" before it actually gets done, and in the end the act usually takes less time than the pushback.

So if you have someone in your organization trying to make a change for the better, refrain from telling them why it can't be done in the middle of their swing. Instead ask powerful questions: how can it be done? What can I do to make this happen? Remember also that yesterday (May 1) officially kicked off the Vice Chief of Staff's "Every Dollar Counts" campaign, where any Airman - civilian or military - can submit cost-reducing ideas to save money and time for the Air Force on the Airmen Powered by Innovation websites.

3. Hit the ball. The Keep It Simple or K.I.S. principle has led me to save some great golf games when I've gotten distracted by a friend's new golf clubs or the cloudy weather. These things are peripheral. What the game of golf - life - comes down to is executing your purpose, keeping a clear vision unobstructed by outside factors or excuses. Whether on the golf course, in my dining room with my family or on an out and about with Chief Redman, I am here to play the game of my life, to focus and hit the ball when it counts. The rest is details.

As golfing weather draws near, I encourage you to visit Trace Kea and his team at the Silver Spruce Golf Course for a relaxing game out on the course or a "chicken in the rough" salad. Enjoy our beautiful Colorado summers, and don't forget to "swing life away."