One summer before I had kids, I decided to take up golf. Under the advice of friends, I took golf lessons. The idea was to learn the basic fundamentals of golfing before I developed bad habits that I’d have to break later when my game wasn’t up to par. (Pun intended.) Learning how to golf from a pro was an excellent decision. In fact, 15 years later, on the rare occasion that I find myself on a golf course, I still remember the basic fundamentals that Bob the golf pro taught me. And as I go to hit a golf ball, I still hear his advice in my head.
One of my favorite nuggets of golf wisdom is loosen your grip. I love this because it’s counterintuitive…but it works. When you try to hit a golf ball with a tight grip, your arms get stiff and your entire body gets rigid—and the ball doesn’t usually respond well to this approach. You swing with all your might, and the ball often just dribbles a few feet away from the tee. But with a loose grip, your arms and body are flexible and fluid, and often the ball just sails through the air. It’s interesting, isn’t it? Wouldn’t you think a tight grip and a lot of force would make the ball travel farther? I would….but it just doesn’t work that way.
So you might be wondering what this has to do with organizing and creating change in your home and life. Well, here it is: When you loosen your grip on organizing, you’ll go farther, too, just like that little white golf ball. If you find yourself clinging tight to a certain way of doing things, or a certain way of accomplishing a goal, you’ll likely find that you’re rigid, tense and inflexible. But when you loosen your grip, you can accomplish your goals with ease, fluidity and flexibility. This way of approaching your goals is not only more fun…it’s also more effective.
Here’s an example. A few years ago I had to give up running due to injuries. But I had a firm grip on the idea that running was the only form of aerobic exercise for me. I loved to run and when I had to stop, well, I was pretty rigid and inflexible. I wanted to run and that was that. Recently, though, I (finally) loosened my grip and decided I’d try fitness classes. Now here’s the crazy thing: When I let go of the idea that running was the only exercise for me, my body became stronger and more flexible — and I was able to run again.
Take action! Is there a goal in your life that you’re gripping onto a bit too tightly? Do you feel like there’s just one way to get there…and if you loosen your grip the entire goal will slip out of your hands altogether? Next time you recognize this in yourself, remember the lesson of the golf ball. Loosen your grip just a little bit and try a new way to achieve your goal. Give yourself the permission to be flexible and fluid. You may just find that when you loosen your grip, you start sailing again, just like the golf ball.
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