Last week I summarized some of the highlights of my trip to Emporia for the Glass Blown Open. After hitting publish on that post, I realized that I left out a hundred other cool things that happened. It’s just not an experience that can be described with my mediocre writing skills and have that description do the event any justice. You really do need to go there for yourself.
I also realized that with the event over, most of you are probably tired of hearing about it. Like the annoying relative who just got back from their trip to Europe and won’t shut up about it, I’ve certainly done my fair blathering on. With that said, I have one more loose end to tie up. And really, it’s not even completely GBO specific.
When I first wrote about going to the Glass Blown Open, I talked about what my goals were. Primarily, I wanted to roll out of Emporia knowing in my heart that I had done all I could to prepare. That I left all of myself out on the courses. That I had held nothing back. No second thoughts, no regrets. It is only in hindsight that I realize that I didn’t succeed at that.
If you had asked me about that as I was driving away, I would have answered differently. It’s funny how time gives you perspective in a way that nothing else can. After much time, posting of pictures on Instagram, and reflection, I now see that I missed a huge opportunity in my preparation. Who knows how much better I would have played if I hadn’t missed it, but I did.
My biggest mistake, and one that I’m trying very hard to learn from, is that I went at it alone. I placed the full burden of training and preparing squarely on my own shoulders. While I enlisted all of your help as passive providers of accountability, I did not get help in any other way. That’s just dumb.
I think I started to realize this during the JohnE McCray clinic. As I stood at the feet of a master, trying to learn everything I could, I saw that all of the lessons he was sharing were things I’d have a hell of a time getting on my own. I was so appreciative of learning from someone else. Especially someone that had so much to share and was so willing to share it.
My realization fully sank in over this past week as I read Zen and the Art of Disc Golf for a third time. In that book, Patrick McCormick talks about the 3 groups of people you should play with. One of those groups is a mentor group, people who are better than you and can teach. It was then that I realized I didn’t have that in my disc golf life.
I have a very good friend who is a much better disc golfer than I. He practices daily. He breaks down the sport meticulously and is a very good teacher. He also lives an hour and half away and works different hours than I do. Outside of him, I’ve never made a concerted effort to find someone to practice with. I’ve never put forth the time and energy to go play with others who could help me. I also have to admit that this is not solely a disc golf problem.
You can ask my parents, ex girlfriends, boss, friends, and most other people that know me. I try to do everything on my own. I’m guessing more than a few of you can relate. It’s hard to admit that we can’t stand on our own two feet. It’s difficult to cop to the fact that others know more than we do. It’s seemingly embarrassing to tell another person that you need help. It’s also one of the biggest mistakes any of us make when trying to learn or get better at just about anything.
As I sit here and write this, I can’t help but mentally compile the huge list of skills I’d be better at if I’d just ask for help. Disc golf, photography, relationships, my job. The list is big and full of big, important things.
So as I think back on my trip to Kansas, filled with fond memories of extremely good times, I can’t help but think, what if… What if I’d sought help? What if I’d actively asked for coaching? What if I’d set aside my determination to do everything in life on my own and worked with someone else?
Someone asked me on Twitter what I was going to do next now that the “Road to the GBO” is over. I believe I have my answer. I need to find that mentor group to play with. I need to make a conscious effort to find someone better than me (that’s the easy part!) who is willing to play with me and give me feedback. I want to see just how much faster I can improve with help.
So, I’ll start this process by asking you… Who out there has that solid mentor group? Where did you find them? How did they end up in that role? I want to hear your success stories. I can’t be the only one in this situation. I’ll bet there are lots of folks out there in the same boat. Out there plugging away by themselves on solo rounds, solo trips to their local football field, and solo putting sessions. It’s time to stop going it alone. It’s time to see if next year’s GBO can be even better with help.
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