The Downside Of Greatness: The Moments That Redefine Us
### It’s easy to get complacent when things come easy. When we are in the zone using all of our gifts and talents, let’s face it: It’s easier for us than others who may have to try harder to succeed.
Take golf, for instance. Have you ever watched a professional or a really great amateur hit a golf ball? It’s magnificent. It’s fluid and smooth and the ball jumps off of their club with what looks like very little effort on the golfer’s part. Why? Because these lucky people have found the one thing they do better than ten thousand other people. They are wired to play golf. Period.
Go to any local driving range and watch folks hit balls. It’s not pretty, as a rule. They practice and practice and yet they only get to a certain point and that’s it. But, a person who is sort of pre-destined to be a golfer spends the same amount of time on the range and they become Suzy Whaley or Phil Mickelson. That’s a great lesson. Find what you were destined to do and get busy doing it.
But, believe it or not there can be a downside to greatness.
I had the privilege of interviewing Suzy Whaley recently at the KPMG Women’s Leadership Summit outside Chicago. In our interview, Whaley surprised me with this revelation: As a young woman, she had no intention of becoming a golf professional!
> I was going to law school. But I played some good golf. I played well in two LPGA events as an amateur and came to the attention of some people who wanted to send me to Tour school. So, I called my mother and told her I was going to Tour school and not law school. Thankfully my mother took the news well and even encouraged me: ‘That’s fantastic!’ she said. ‘You can always go to law school.”
Soon Whaley and her mom were on their way to Sweetwater, Texas, where Whaley secured her Tour card on her very first try. It was all so easy. She was really good, and success was practically a given.
But then she began to compete against the best golfers on the planet and reality set in. She missed three qualifying cuts, lost her tour card and only made $2,000 for the year. She had to take a waitress job to support herself. It looked like her short lived golf career was over.
But Whaley didn’t think that. She began to deconstruct what had happened to her and she realized her mistake. She had relied on her natural talent and had ignored the discipline it takes to be a world class golfer. Everyone she competed against week after week were never satisfied and were constantly working on every aspect of their game. She knew that she would need that kind of resolve to get back on the LPGA tour and to have sustained success.
She was determined and did what she needed to do and after two long years, she got her tour card back. This time she felt she really earned her card and, looking back, she sees that turning point as one of the best moments of her career. Since then she has had a lot of firsts. She was the first woman to compete in the PGA Professional Championship. She was the first woman elected PGA secretary. And in November she will become the first woman president of the PGA of America.
All of this came after a precipitous fall from grace.
So what are the lessons for the rest of us from Whaley’s story? Well, first of all, work like crazy to find that thing or things that you are great at and at which you excel because of your innate gifts and talents.
Secondly, don’t let failure stop you. The only people who aren’t failing are people who are not trying anything. Most people that we revere in the world have failed a lot more than they have succeeded.
Lastly, don’t get comfortable with your success and your talents. Always have a rock in your shoe. Always be striving to do and be more and get better every day. [Always be happy where you are, but never be satisfied.](https://twitter.com/intent/tweet?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.forbes.com%2Fsites%2Fjillgriffin%2F2018%2F06%2F30%2Fthe-downside-of-greatness-the-moments-that-redefine-us%2F&text=Always%20be%20happy%20where%20you%20are%2C%20but%20never%20be%20satisfied.)