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
I’ll start this post with a healthy dose of honesty. I’m tired. This year has been one chock full of a very many things, a lot of goodness, hardship, tough conversations, and wonderful connections. Now one could say, “well, that’s life”, and that is true… but 2019 was a solid one. As I sit down to write the last post of the year, I simply cannot deny the fact that the cumulative fatigue of the year has caught up with me.
When I find myself strung out, writing is tough. The flow of ideas an
All superintendents have to-do lists. It doesn’t matter how one manages them — smartphone, tablet, app or even manually on a piece of paper — they guide our days and can shape us as much as they shape our courses.
Many of us live and die by these lists. The blueprint they provide us is essential to what we accomplish on any given day, week, month, or over the course of the season. But what is your relationship to that list? Is it a positive source of clarity and organization? Do you pause a
A few weeks back a good friend, Michael Vessely (Culver Academy) reminded me of someone special who has had a profound effect on my life. He was not someone I ever met in person, but nonetheless always felt a deep connection with. This person had that kind of effect on all those he touched, met, and taught. I’m speaking of cultural icon, instructional painter, and humanitarian, Mr. Bob Ross - creator and host of The Joy of Painting television show that aired for many years on PBS.
There has been a theory forming in my mind for a while now. It’s one of those connections that I have been subtly observing for a while now, but it wasn’t until this spring that it has emerged fully formed. The idea explores the overlay and the similarities between turf departments and restaurant kitchens. It may seem like an odd theme for a blog post but bear with me.
Over the last couple of months our kitchen staff has suffered tremendously. We have been dealing with devastating personal
Like many of you I sat transfixed as Tiger Woods made his way to his unprecedented fifth Masters title. It was hard not to be swept away by the culmination of this archetypal hero’s journey and cheer him down the 18th fairway. It was great to see him don the green jacket once more, but more importantly it was really nice to see him happy.
It wasn’t until after a recent conversation with my dear friend (a former Assistant Superintendent of mine) Robert McGregor a few days later, that the arc
The practice of yoga has always fascinated me. The breath work, the mind/body connection, and the way it can absolutely destroy you without you leaving your mat. Yoga has had a profound effect on my body and my well being.
A key yoga lesson which has stayed with me over the years is that of support. A wise teacher once explained that when doing a pose, the primary source of strength doesn’t always come from the main body part you would assume it would. Instead, much of the strength and sta
We are all part of communities. I am a family member, a citizen of my small town, I am an Islander, a Maritimer and a Canadian. You can say similar yet different things about yourself. Whether it’s at the family level, within our surrounding neighborhoods or even based on our geographic locations; we are all part of a something bigger than just ourselves. At the macro level we are also part of the larger human community and even the community of all beings that makes up this planet. We all are i
With each turn of a new year, it can be a helpful exercise to both reflect on the year that was and ponder the time ahead. I’ve never been a huge fan of the resolution thing and hopefully most of us have figured out that approach doesn’t really work anyway. Most resolutions fail principally because they start from a place of deficiency; the idea that something is inherently wrong with us and we just need to buckle down and fix it.
What if instead we simply reflected on our strengths and so
A funny thing happened this week. After my most recent bout with intermittent recurring back pain (on and off for the better part of the past 25 years) I finally decided to go for a physiotherapy appointment. I’m really not sure why I hadn’t gone before; ignorance, procrastination, stubbornness... pick anything really. My wife picked stubbornness. My chronic back struggles had become a part of how I defined myself and I guess I just accepted that my back pain was inevitable.
Back trouble fo
We had a feeling that we were on to something. An idea for an event that was so far out of the industry box, there was no packaging left. We sincerely hoped that it would have a lasting impact on the attendees; that the small space created would open a door to new possibilities and a fresh way of approaching what it means to be a Superintendent. We had no idea the impact our first retreat would have.
The beta version of the Mindful Superintendent Leadership and Wellness Retreat has come and