In my last post I mentioned the PGA Golf Championship and how it ended in drama for Dustin Johnson. The short story is that Johnson was called on a rule infraction and penalized 2 strokes. The infraction and resulting penalty effectively eliminated him from the opportunity to win the championship. I was watching as it happened, so I understood exactly what had occurred. My first thought was you’ve got to be kidding. My next thought was this is so unfair. Finally I thought what a stupid rule.
After the dust settled (no pun intended), and I fully understood the reasoning of the rules official, and I witnessed the reaction and heard the words of Dustin Johnson, I realized that it all comes down to this: Rules are Rules! And life isn’t always fair … and you can’t always get want you want … and as Forrest Gump said, ‘It happens!’
So what can we take away from all of this?
Let us first look at ‘Rules’ and the part they play in our daily lives. The dictionary defines rules as a principle or regulation governing conduct, action, procedure, arrangement, etc. The rules of golf are clearly defined and articulated, though they are mostly based on and derived from long-standing traditions. Historically, golf has been viewed as a ‘gentlemen’s sport’ in that the rules are essentially self-regulated and self-enforced. In other words, it’s up to the participant to know and understand the rules and to follow them of his or her own volition.
How is that different from living life? There are rules that exist in life and in civilized society, some written and some traditional or implied. We are all supposed to obey these rules and for the most part, it’s up to us individually to follow them. Of course there are police, courts and judges to deal with the most egregious of violations, but by and large, we are a self-regulating people, aren’t we?
So much of daily life in America operates under the assumption that people will self-regulate and ‘follow the rules’. We stop at red lights. We let pedestrians cross the road. We respect the property of others. We send our kids to school and attend their ball games & dance recitals. We show up for work on time. We attend meetings and do the work our employers ask. We receive the paychecks for that work. We pay our phone bills, our mortgages. We pay the IRS. We vote. We accept the judgment of our elected officials. We vote them out of office if we don’t like their judgment. We effectively live a life full of rules, and many of the rules are predominately controlled from within.
Along the way, some of these rules seem stupid and unfair. They are annoying and test our patience. We complain, grumble, gossip, procrastinate, and we sometimes cheat. And at the end of the day, we typically only need to answer to the person in the mirror. Sometimes we get caught and need to take the penalty.
When Dustin Johnson realized what had occurred he stood up and took responsibility. You could sense he was most likely thinking “You’ve got to be kidding, how unfair, and what a stupid rule” but to paraphrase what he actually said was something more like this, ‘I didn’t recognize I was violating the rule. I misinterpreted the situation. I obviously did violate the rule. I screwed up. I take responsibility. I’ll take my penalty.’
What do you do when you violate a rule? Do you spend a lot of time justifying your behavior and complaining about the unfairness of the rule? Or do you take a deep breath, look at the situation with calm and composure, realistically evaluate what happened, and take your penalty and move on with life? “It happens!”
Next Blog Title: Escalators or Stairs
Next Blog Date: August 23, 2010