Yesterday, I shared with you a lesson I learnt from Golf. It really is a fascinating game. I've recently started learning and researching it, and every new thing I discover seems to mirror a valuable life lesson. Today I'd like to share another one with you.
In Golf, a long shot is known as a drive, and a short one is a putt. A putt is what you see at the end of the golf game when Tiger Woods gives the ball a gentle tap to send it rolling a few feet into the hole. A drive is what you see at the beginning of the game, when he sends the ball soaring hundreds of metres along the fairway.
One of the first things I learnt was how to drive. Before I did anything, the golf pro told me to look out across the fairway and pick a spot where I wanted my ball to land. He made me look at the spot, far off in the distance for almost a whole minute, to make sure I could visualise it clearly. Then he made me close my eyes and picture the golf ball travelling from the spot in front of me, all the way to the target I had chosen.
When I opened my eyes, he told me to look directly at the ball and nothing else. While I steadied my grip on the club, I was to look at the ball. While I swung the club back over my right shoulder, I was to keep staring at the ball. While I swung the club back down in a half-circle to strike the shot, I was to keep looking at nothing but the ball, until I had swung through and hit it. Only then could I lift my head and watch the ball travel through the air to see where it would fall.
Again, this process made me think about life. How I was taught to drive a golf ball is the perfect mirror of how we to achieve success in any of life's endeavours. First, you must set your target. That one thing you wish to achieve. A promotion at work, admission into a great institution, a new car, a new house, a new business, a new husband, whatever. Then you need to physically visualise your journey from where you are now, to where you want to be.
Picture it all. Every single step. Imagine the little milestones along the way. Picture saving your first thousand cedis, then your first ten thousand. Picture writing your entry exam. Imagine the questions they will ask you at your interview. Picture all the meals, the massages and the magical moments you'll create that lead to your new man saying "I love you" and introducing you to his family. Close your eyes and picture the journey. Write it all down. That's your plan. That's your map. That's the path you are going to travel from today to your future.
Once you have your target and you have your path, all you have to do is focus on the ball and take your shot. Focus on today and make your move. So many of us have dreams and goals. Some of us even know exactly what we must do to achieve them, but we aren't focused on what must be done now – today – towards achieving our dreams. We want a promotion, we know what we must do to earn it, but we aren't focused on the little task on our desk right now, the phone call we are making to a client this morning, the customer we are serving at this material moment. Our dream is clear, our path is drawn, but our eyes are not on the little balls we must strike along the path to our dreams.
My friends, success is the aggregate sum of the little things we do right every day – the little balls we strike along the path to our goals. Doing little things right today move you further along your way towards your goal. In the same way, every time you lose focus on what you're doing today, you deviate off your path and prolong your journey.
During my golf lesson, every time I took my eye off the ball during a drive – even for a split second – I either missed the ball or hit it in the wrong direction. This meant I now had to take corrective shots to get back on my path towards the target I visualised. Life is the same. Every day that you lose focus, every day that you don't give your all to the little tasks before you, every time you take your eye off the little ball, you travel farther away from your goal. Get today right and tomorrow will fall into place.
My name is Kojo Yankson, and I know what future I want. All I must do to get there, is focus on the little balls placed before me today.