What Golfing Taught Me About Leaning In and Getting Started

You know how you get those “ah ha!” moments sometimes? Like when, out of the blue, something hits you and you have a big realization? That happened to me recently, and it made me see something from three different points of view.

I was at a company golf outing in Arizona. Mind you, I had never really golfed and didn’t know the first thing about it. I didn’t even know how to keep track of how well you did. I’d been asked to join as a last-minute fill-in for someone who had dropped out, and I was so nervous. I was so paranoid that I would make my company look bad. I stressed myself out prior to going—it was all I thought about in the four days leading up to it. I watched video golf lessons, and the night before, I practiced putting with an invisible putter in my hotel room. I couldn’t sleep, and it was all I could think about.

The day of the tournament, I was full of self-doubt. Everyone around me had clubs and golf outfits, and I had nothing. I didn’t understand golf etiquette, and I was sure everyone would see how bad I was. It was an 18-hole day, and I thought, “I’m not going to survive.” I just shut down—I probably came off as rude.

The first hit, I took a chunk out of the grass. I was shaking I was so nervous. That’s when one of the guys in the group said, “This is fun. We want to help you.” And they gave me golf lessons and pointers at every hole and more of the strategy of how to be able to hit the ball. The tournament was a two-day event, and on the second day, because of just a little help from the guys in my group, my confidence was up 70 percent.

As a coach, having that experience gave me a new appreciation for how to meet people where they’re at. I can see new ways to bridge that gap between where they’re at and where they want to be. It made me realize how overwhelming it can be for some people to start a new routine like CrossFit or running and how just a little compassion and understanding can help a novice feel more comfortable.

It also made me think about how you don’t have to be a coach to show up for someone trying something new. Anyone can be that person who encourages someone else to lean in to that uncomfortable step. If you think someone is interested in trying something like CrossFit or running and you’ve already been doing it, you can reach out to them knowing they may be too scared to ask for help or support. Reach out to your community of people, even if they’re not your community of fitness. You might be surprised to see how much you can boost someone up.

And it really made me realize how important it is to lean in to those things that aren’t easy for me and for other people to do the same. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say “I want to start CrossFit, but I need to get in shape first” or “I’ll sign up for Running With Muscle once I’m prepared to run a 5K.” But that’s not the point of either of those sports—the point of those sports is baby steps to keep achieving bigger and bigger things. It’s easy to look around at all those people in a CrossFit gym who own their own jump rope, lifters, and knee sleeves and think you don’t belong. Or to see people who have been running for years and feel like you can’t talk to them unless you’ve put the miles under your feet. Because when you look at something as a whole, it can be so overwhelming and so easy to think, “How do I start?”

The point is, just start. I wish I had given myself some grace before the golf tournament to not be good at golfing right out of the gate. I don’t have to be a golfer. I don’t have to be something I’m not. If you want to try something, don’t let fear of being bad or “not something” get in the way. Show up. And if you think you can’t, find that person in your life who will show up with you. I know from experience, once you keep learning and doing, you’ll find it gets better and better, one baby step at a time.

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