It’s hard to believe, but The Mindful Superintendent blog turned 10 years old this past week. Way back on Dec. 30th, 2012, with the support of TurfNet and my wife and editor, Jill, the Mindful Super began this journey (New Beginnings). It’s definitely been a heck of a ride thus far.
As I look back on what the last decade of personal reflection and writing has brought into my life, I am overwhelmed with gratitude. I’m so thankful for all the ups and downs, ins and outs, the good and the bad.
It’s been a spell since we last connected via this blog; August 19th to be exact. We were exploring the idea of Mindful Resilience and what it takes to build this capacity within ourselves. It is an interesting topic to dive into at the best of times, and even more so in the worst. Little did I know then how many of these concepts would take center stage in my life of late.
On September 24th Hurricane Fiona arrived on the shores of Prince Edward Island. As an island on the eastern coast of
If you live in the northeastern part of the US or in eastern Canada as I do, you are very likely smack dab in the midst of what can be termed the burn out season. You spent the spring preparing your facility for the onslaught of golfers and now with the excitement of opening day a distant memory, both you and your team are most likely suffering from the cumulative effects of the grind.
The feeling of fatigue which supers and their employees experience at this stage of the season can be ove
Pause a moment and think about a time when your playing surfaces suffered. Disease, traffic issues, weather events… any or all can force you to take measures to mitigate the damage. Perhaps you add medicine, raise the HOC, or divert activity away from the area all together in order to alleviate the pressures and allow space for recovery. Basically you were forced to confront vulnerability and then impart measures of care and nurturing in order to fix the problem.
How many times in your care
Imagine for a moment your life as a Superintendent without the idea of intention. Think of all the cultural practices, data collection and measurements. Think of crew management and leadership development. Think of all the things that we accomplish during the course of the season that require vision, discipline and intention. If our daily processes are not rooted in our core values; and they are not the soil from which everything else grows, the season can be long indeed.
Goals and discipli
Mindful Resilience: The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. The ability of an object to spring back into shape; elasticity. (Oxford Dictionary)
So much of our job as Superintendents depends on our ability to build resilience into our systems. We focus a great deal of time and energy on building the ability for our turf to recover quickly from inevitable hardship. The full range of our cultural practices, from nutrition, to hydration, air movement and proper light levels are all
Every now and then we stumble across an idea or quote that gives us reason for pause. It could be we stop because someone else has suddenly crystallized perfectly a fragmented notion we have been working through in our own psyche. On the other hand, the idea could be one of those lightning bolt moments that catch us completely off guard and forces a hasty retreat into our opinion bunker to reevaluate things.
Recently I came across a quote that seemed to fall somewhere in the middle. I had
If you were to poll most superintendents and ask how they’ve fared over the last couple of years in this profession, no doubt the responses would be as varied as the different grasses we all manage. It’s been a mixed bag of never ending issues and demands, many of which are brand new to us. It would be safe to say that most have dealt with one or more (or all) of the following:
Furloughs and temporary closures
Deep labor issues (related to and independent of the first point)
From time to time our turf systems meet with varying degrees of stress. These events can generally range from a mild annoyance to full blown catastrophe. The road to recovery can vary depending on the situation and the approach to healing depends on many factors. How we as superintendents respond to these stressors and subsequently guide recovery usually says a great deal about how successful we will be during our careers.
Often times the stressor is fairly repetitive and benign (think traf
At some point in your career you have probably had this question arise. It starts off in the shadows of your awareness and can sometimes grow into a full-blown sense of terror. It usually shows up when things are shifting, something new and challenging is on the horizon, or even when the grind of the season catches up with you. It may be a simple phrase or question… but no matter the form, it can contain a multitude of fear and judgement. And ironically, because this conversation usually occurs
As I was scrolling through Twitter the other day I stumbled across this quote. I read it through and thought, hmmm, that makes sense. Then I foolishly realized that I had said it during an interview with my esteemed colleague and friend Frank Rossi earlier in the week. I don’t relay this to sound uppity or anything, just to make the point that even when one knows something to be so, they don’t always recognize it, even when it comes from their own mouth.
Frank and I were discussing a few d
“Superintendents are their own worst enemies.” — Anonymous Greenkeeper
Many of us know this to be true and can think of a time in our careers when we made things more difficult than they needed to be. Perhaps we suffered through expectations that simply weren’t realistic, constantly aimed for perfection, or tried to do it all on our own. Our jobs are demanding enough to begin with, but by times we layer more on and suffer because of it.
I revisited this notion recently as I made my wa
Most supers I know have at least one special spot on their properties that is their quiet place. It usually has a nice view, is set apart from the line of play, and generally brings with it a sense of peace. I happen to have more than a few spots like that (I like to pause often) and I recently found myself in one of the more unique spots reflecting on this post. The spot I speak of is actually on an adjacent property to the golf course, but is used to be part of our operation.
I’ve been thinking about less a lot lately. Exploring the idea of subtraction, but more so about the notion of addition by subtraction. Our culture seems bent on development, expansion and constantly adding to what already exists. Opposition to this idea can leave you in the company of a very small minority, but what about the virtues of simplicity, unlearning and removal? How many times in your life has taking something away left you with something far more precious and manageable? How many tim
As superintendents we are very familiar with patterns. They affect our jobs in a great many ways. We fine tune mowing patterns on a daily basis. We keep schedules and time clocks to maintain the work patterns for our teams. And we keep meticulous records of all of our comings and goings in order to recognize flaws in the pattern in order to make any necessary corrections to keep our operations running smoothly.
One pattern we tend to follow more than any other, some would day even religious
Take a moment to reflect on a major journey that you have embarked on. It could be anything at all really; from pursuing a lifelong dream or goal like growing and mowing grass for a living, conquering a fear or barrier, or facing headlong into a major health crisis. You may even be in the midst of the journey at this very moment.
Allow yourself to pause and let the reflection permeate your consciousness… feel it in your bones and sit with it for a spell.
How do you process the idea
“Don’t turn away. Keep your eyes on the bandaged place. That’s where the light enters you.” — Rumi
As this year that has felt like a decade draws to a close, it’s been interesting to watch and listen to how people are relating to it. The chorus of “good riddance”, “so done with 2020”, “2020 dumpster fire”, and “can’t wait for 2021” appear to be ringing out in unison. It seems like most people simply can’t wait to discard the year that was so we can “get back to normal.”
It is incredib
“When one’s expectations are reduced to zero, one really appreciates everything one does have.” — Stephen Hawking
There have been many occasions during the past number of months for pausing and reflecting on how the pandemic has impacted our lives both personally and professionally. At any given time, we can find ourselves getting frustrated by the ways our current reality is not matching former expectations of self and other. We generally operate at a certain level, and when that baseline
It never ceases to amaze me how many layers and textures slowly appear over the course of a given season. Whether it’s the stages of the melt over winter, the new buds and shoots of the spring or the ever-changing bursts of wildflowers over the summer months giving way to the burnished coppers of autumn, living mindfully encourages us to lend our awareness to this bounty constantly. But, as we are all aware, the demands of our jobs and our lives can make that difficult by times. It can be a tal
This summer I was afforded a unique opportunity. Our son Lucas (17) plays guitar in a band and they were lucky enough to land a regular outdoor gig playing jazz in downtown Charlottetown five evenings a week all summer. Only glitch with this plan was that last November Lucas developed a hernia and has been waiting on surgery ever since. This precluded him from carrying any of the gear both to and from the summer shows. Hence, I became the band’s default roadie for most of the summer, and I have
As superintendents, we are well acquainted with the personal vulnerability we feel when our workplaces are in need of repair. Whether it's structural decline, damage from a weather event, personnel issues, or simply wear and tear from the passage of time, we usually have two choices when it comes to facing difficulties within our operations. We can pretend they are not really a problem and continue with business as usual, or we can tackle the issues head on with clarity, moving towards a meaning
A couple of years back I saw an animated short on Youtube (below) narrated by author, ABC news personality, and podcast host Dan Harris. In the video Harris likened the practice of mindfulness to being an actual superpower. Our ability to choose to respond wisely rather than be carried off by our habitual reactions is on par with x-ray vision or shooting webs from your wrists.
The interesting thing about most super heroes is that they aren’t just one-trick ponies. Even though the
“There is nothing so stable as change.” — Bob Dylan
In our lives there isn’t much that’s predictable. The only thing we can count on for sure is that things change constantly. On many levels change is imperceptible. Thatch accumulation underneath a green surface, a tree growing a few inches at a time, a change in a belt notch or a hairline receding. The hum of daily life keeps these things in the background, hidden by our toils and troubles, joys and sorrows.
Once in a while we all exp
It was no more than a whisper for years. But thanks to the courage of more and more people willing to speak out, the hushed tones are growing into an audible conversation. People who you never would have suspected are opening up to a new narrative. Those who have always felt strongly about it are speaking their minds and sharing with each other openly.
Mental well-being, stress management and mindfulness are beginning to take root in the turf industry.
This movement towards a more ho
“You must experiment. You do things in which you eliminate something that is perhaps essential, but to learn how essential it is you leave it out. The space then becomes very significant.” — Henry Moore
A few weeks ago I was afforded a rare opportunity to step away from everything that I deem essential in my life. Work, phone, social media, my friends, my family (by far the most essential one… basically my life as I have come to know it. I wasn’t on a vacation per se, rather an intentional