Throughout the years writing this blog, I always find the September edition the toughest one. Being a superintendent/GM in the northeastern portion of the continent is always difficult this time of year. You are worn out by the season, many of your younger staff members have returned to their studies, and you still have a few miles left to go before winter. Finding clarity and creativity can be a challenge.
Creative inspiration can be an elusive concept to pin down. We know it when it hits us, but try too hard to grasp and it slips through our fingers like kiln-dried topdressing sand. For me personally, creativity can be a double-edged sword during this part of the season.
When I walk too close to the burnout stage, my energy gets a bit thin. This is something to be mindful of as it is unpleasant to experience... but I have also discovered that my 'big idea' creativity gets a boost from feelings of fatigue. During such times, focusing on the task at hand can be tricky, but if you need someone to think beyond the ordinary grind, then I'm your man.
As superintendents, we have a unique relationship with creativity. The architect lays out their vision, golfers play on it, and we are charged with both preserving it and reimagining it on a daily basis. It's like taking custody of painting or a song that will eventually fall into complete disrepair if there is not someone to maintain it over time. It can be a delicate balance that has many different 'right answers'.
Creativity at this time of the year can also take various forms. Whether you are reorganizing your labor pool, analyzing your budget, or planning for next season, they all can benefit from new and inspired thinking. Being open to new ideas and merging them with your tried and true processes can be fun. We are constantly reevaluating our goals and finding new ways to achieve them.
Your attitude and thought processes inevitably have a big impact on your creativity. Are you resistant to change? (We all are to varying degrees.) Are you open to input from the rest of your staff? Are you constantly looking for new learning opportunities and taking advantage of networking?
Nothing ignites the spark of idea generation like visiting colleagues at courses nearby. I had a wonderful opportunity to visit two courses last week near Halifax, Nova Scotia. Both were in the care of good friends who are doing truly amazing things with their properties. They inspired me to come back home and measure some of their practices against our property.
Another helpful tool with regards to creativity is stillness. As one practices meditation, the mental clutter of unhelpful thoughts slowly recedes over time. When that mental clutter disappears, you end up with more clarity. Liken this to when an idea hits you when you are not thinking about it (my favorite time is in the shower). By clearing your mind of the chatter, your innate creativity bubbles to the surface more easily.
So this fall give yourself the chance to recharge your creative mind space. Lean into those feelings of tiredness and see what creativity might emerge when you are no longer holding the reigns quite as tightly. Take some well-earned time away from your course to reconnect with your loved ones.
Be well and thanks for reading.