Finding God's Winning Spirit

Bad Shots

November 17, 2014 | Greg Smith | Devotional


One thing that has always frustrated me about being a therapist is not having the opportunity to really get to know my clients. That may sound strange considering the "client therapist relationship" that we always talk about. The fact of the matter is that the national average for visits to therapists is three sessions – not a lot of time to get to know someone. Just when you start to get to know someone they vanish, hopefully better off but who really knows.

About ten years ago one of my highly functional alcoholic clients wanted me to go away with him somewhere for a week so we could work intensively while guaranteeing his sobriety. Because we were both avid golfers we decided to spend this week in West Palm Beach and attend a golf school in the morning and work therapeutically the rest of the day. It was during this week that I discovered a new therapeutic model. This model, which I call 24/7 Intensive Therapeutic Retreat, is the best of both worlds for me. It was here that I really began to see the value of therapeutic relationships and the connection between sports and mental and spiritual health.

Anyway, enough for the setup, here is where I'm going with this. Because my client and I were there for a week we actually took the golf school course twice which allowed us to really get to know our instructor and enjoyed some special attention.  Each morning we would start class by hitting balls and the instructor (Brian Floriano) would come and stand behind each student evaluating our progress and offer advice. Now I don't care how cool you try to be or how well you play, you always want to please the coach and hope there is no criticism.

I remember that on this particular morning it became my turn and Brian stepped in behind me. Quite frankly I was doing very well until all of a sudden out of nowhere I hit the ugliest golf shot of the week. I duck-hooked a five iron so far left that landed in the pond next to the condominiums – I can still feel the embarrassment. Brian went nuts; I had never seen him so excited. He rushed around in front of me with this big grin and said that is a great shot! I thought great we have become so friendly that he thinks he can now make fun of me in front of all these students. I was mistaken.

He called all the students together and began to tell us his life philosophy about "bad shots". His message was that good players hit bad shots and it is through these bad shots that good players become great. Brian went on to say that most amateurs, when they hit a bad shot, quickly drop another ball and try to replace that ugly image with a better shot. Brian then said, “This is a mistake because bad shots can tell you all the things you did wrong while good shots tells you nothing. If you are going to learn then you will have to occasionally fail”.

And some people do not believe that sports teaches life.

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