My vision for my grandson, Evan, has always been huge. First and foremost a golf superstar. We have been golf buddies since he could barely swing a club. His vision is as far reaching as what seems to be the most fun thing to do in the next 24 hours. I am totally content to live with our separate visions as I remember clearly what I was like at Evan’s age.
Now Evan has graduated from high school. Nonetheless, I cannot stop myself from continuing to impart some of my grandparental (a new word) wisdom on his youthful brain. For example, as Evan’s golfing mentor, my first piece of advice to him was: “If you want to be a really good golfer, observe your Grandfather’s swing and then do exactly the opposite.”
My grandson is one of a large cadre of students who is unclear on the direction they want to go. His grades eliminate many schools, but his talents leave me with no doubt he has a bright future. Most importantly, Evan is a positive, loving and caring young man. He has a great sense of humor and a quick wit. Those characteristics alone will take you a long way towards a successful and meaningful life.
As Evan’s father has been primarily absent in his life, I have done my best to fill that gap whenever needed. Fortunately, his mom, my daughter Kate, has done an incredible job in raising him as a single Mom. My opportunities to provide guidance has often come on the golf course for it is well-known that the way a person plays golf gives much insight into their character.
I confess to loving golf. However, it is because the game is more than about hitting a little ball around a well manicured course. The rules and etiquette that are a part of the game provide lessons in life itself. Golf is a game that requires not only skill but, as importantly, it asks the player to have integrity, to have emotional self-discipline and to show care and respect for fellow players.
As you can imagine endeavoring to have a teenager grasp the significance of these latter qualities is not an easy task. Sometimes, however, an opportunity arrives where I need do nothing but be present as a role model appears on the television screen. I recall Evan and I were watching a 22 year old from Northern Ireland by the name of Rory McIlroy beat his fellow competitors by one of the largest margins in US Open history.
It was great stuff, but in the middle of the broadcast Jimmy Roberts, an NBC sportscaster, hosted a vignette called – Who is Rory McIlroy?
That Rory was an incredible talent was unquestioned, but Jimmy Roberts went on to say that his appeal and the reasons that the crowd seemed to be rooting for him was tied as much to the kind of person he was as much as his brilliance on the golf course. Here are just a few of the characteristics that were identified:
Dedicated: Hours and hours of practice since he was a young boy. All self-motivated.
Conscientious: Aware that there is more to life than golf, he is an ambassador for Unicef.
Gracious: At the previous Masters tournament that year, he was leading after the first three rounds but had a melt down on the last day to finish in 13th place. Rather than leave the tournament in embarrassment, he faced the media straight on and was “unfailingly polite and patient.”
Grounded: Asked how he felt about that disappointing loss he answered: “If this is the worst thing that ever happens to me, it isn’t all that bad.”
Resilient: To respond to sporting adversity as experienced at the Masters and to come back and win the US Open so convincingly, Rory McIlroy proves the adage that being knocked down isn’t what matters. What matters is – are you willing to get up again and fully embrace another day?
Now, to be honest, I really don’t know how much of this got through to Evan. However, I do know that learning more about this remarkable young man had a significant impact on me. I am clearly not beyond self-examination to see how the characteristics displayed by a 20 something applies to me – a soon to be 69 year old. Perhaps it is because I am reminded of what Richard Bach said in his book, Illusions: “He teaches that which he most needs to learn.”
The perfect gift for the graduate in your life. David McNally’s book THE PUSH – Unleashing the Power of Encouragement.