au•then•tic [aw-then-tik] adjective – 1. Not false or copied; genuine; real.
Last Sunday, 29 year-old Martin Kaymer won the U.S. Open, arguably the most prestigious and difficult of golf’s four major championships. He did so in record-breaking fashion, leading from wire-to-wire, setting and then duplicating the record for the lowest 18-hole score ever carded at Pinehurst No. 2 in a major championship (65), smashing the tournament’s 36-hole scoring record (65, 65 – 130), recording the second lowest 72-hole total in U.S. Open history (271) and finishing 8 strokes ahead of his nearest competitor, the 4th largest margin of victory in a U.S. Open behind Tiger Woods’ 15 shot victory at Pebble Beach (and two old guys no one’s ever heard of). As if all that weren’t impressive enough, Kaymer did all of this just weeks after another dominating, wire-to-wire victory at the Players Championship, generally thought to be the “5th Major” among touring professionals. In doing so, Kaymer joined Seve Ballesteros, Ernie Els, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy as the only players to win two majors and be No. 1 in the world before turning 30 since the world rankings began in 1986.
Still, had you asked those “in the know” back in 2010 to speculate on the probability of Kaymer capturing what I like to refer to as the “Parental Slam” (the Players and the Open crown their champions on Mother’s and Father’s Day, respectively) most of them likely would have given Kaymer fairly good odds. After all, he had just won the PGA Championship (at age 25!) and when two other victories followed in quick succession, overtaken Tiger Woods as the No. 2 player in the world and, ultimately, Lee Westwood as the world No. 1. But had you asked those same prognosticators for the odds of it happening just 3 years later (in 2013) none would have given Kaymer a chance! Why? because shortly after becoming the No. 1 player in the world, Kaymer decided he needed to change his swing, that his natural, left to right ball flight made him too one dimensional – unable to adapt to, let alone conquer certain courses, including the famed Augusta National, home of the Masters! The result: Kaymer plummeted in the World Rankings and commentators began to openly question whether he was a “one hit wonder.”
Truth be told, Kaymer was not alone. In fact, the professional golf landscape is littered with immensely talented and once highly touted players for whom good, bordering on great seemingly wasn’t good enough. David Gossett is a case in point. When he was only a sophomore at the University of Texas, Gossett won the 1999 U.S. Amateur by the largest margin in the preceding 33 years (9 & 8). Two years later, he won the first PGA Tour event he entered, the 2001 John Deere Classic, an almost unheard of feat, at the ripe “old” of 22. He would go on to log 7 top 10 finishes on Tour over the next 2½ years and amass more than $2.2 million in prize money. But for reasons known only to Gossett, he wasn’t as successful as he wanted to/thought he should be, so he began to fiddle with his swing. Golf carnage followed: 23 missed cuts in 25 events in 2004 with total earnings for the year just over $21,000 and the loss of his playing privileges on Tour. The next 5 years were no better (14 missed cuts in just 16 Tour events) and the road back has not been any more glamorous – lots of hard work, grinding at mini-tour events and Monday Qualifiers – all in search of what he already had: his Authentic Swing.
What does any of this have to do with us, with Life, with getting unstuck? Umm, pretty much everything – I think! You see, the more hearts I listen to, read about or observe from a distance the more convinced I become that all of us come into this world living (or wanting to live), doing, dreaming, loving (and needing to be loved) in ways that are unique to us – they are our “authentic swing.” As children, we begin to discover and explore the many facets of that swing and experience its spontaneous and unfiltered joys. We feel its power. Regrettably, however, over time, many of us start to question whether our swing is flexible enough, strong enough, valuable enough, aesthetically pleasing enough, well-rounded enough to be part of the group we want, get the job we want, find the mate we want, have the lifestyle we want, earn the degree we want, have the friends we want, etc. – and, invariably, we begin to tinker with it, some of us even go so far as to box it up like the remainder of an unfinished gourmet meal and stick it in the deep freeze, forgetting that it’s even there.
The farther we move away from the “sweet spot” of our authentic swing the more impenetrable the accompanying “darkness” seems to get. The sense of joy we once knew is replaced with often overwhelming feelings of discouragement, disappointment, sadness, loneliness, frustration – a loss of control). Where do those feelings come from? They (and the behaviors associated with trying to numb them) are an inevitable by-product of our becoming disconnected from our “authentic swing.” If I’m right (and I think I am), the journey back is less about change (http://tinyurl.com/lsl9nue) than it is about re-discovery and “re-connection” – a two-step process that first requires identifying the “you” that came into this world followed by a passionate and undistractable commitment to welcoming that person and all that they have to offer back into your life! Simply put, the pre-worldly-adorned “you” is precisely, uniquely, beautifully the person you were intended to be and you and the world desperately need to be “re-introduced” to her (or him)!
The good news is: Because it is an integral part of who we are, we can be assured that, regardless of where we may be on our life journey when we make the choice and commit to the “work” necessary to find our way back home, our authentic self will be eagerly waiting in the doorway for our arrival with warm, welcoming and open arms. But, don’t just take my word for it – take Martin’s or, better yet, take a fictional caddy’s!