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The Onion in the Ointment

Paul MacCormack


b01e18bb928f3dc0ff575011644273fd-.jpgA few weeks back I was reading through a blog I follow and fell upon this post: becomingminimalist.com i am flawed. It sums up the importance of owning up to our flaws and accepting them. It presents the premise that only when we face our flaws honestly and accept them,  can we move forward and work towards change.


The blog spoke to me in a few important ways... the first reminding me of the power of awareness. Do you remember that old tag line during the little life lessons from the ABC after school specials? After the kids would learn some ancient wisdom, they would say "and now I know!" and the all-knowing adult would reply, "and knowing is half the battle." The funny thing is that this actually is true. When we acknowledge anything we struggle with, whether it be a fault or just something that we are having trouble with, we shine a light on it and it withers with the heat of our awareness.


After the kids would learn some ancient wisdom, they would say "and now I know!" and the all-knowing adult would reply, "and knowing is half the battle." The funny thing is that this actually is true.


The other lesson I took from this post was that we are not alone in our battles. We think that all of our idiosyncrasies and quirks are uniquely our own and that no one else struggles at all. We retreat to the cocoon of our mind and create all these reasons why others are better than we are and why we will never be able to measure up. Well guess what...it's simply not true. I used to read the Becoming Minimalist blog thinking that the author, Joshua Becker, had it all together. He wrote about all of the things that I wanted for my life. But then I read this post and realized that he struggles along just like the rest of us. Remember this the next time you find yourself hoisting another superintendent onto a pedestal, thinking they can do no wrong.


c232fc0c9d5d875628a0f8e2ecac637b-.jpgThe final reflection was more personal in nature. I spent a bit of time looking inward to honestly evaluate a few of my own flaws. It was not meant to be an exercise based in guilt, but simply one based on flicking on the switch of awareness to get the process of renewal started.


What I found was not all together startling,  there were no great revelations rather just honest self acknowledgement. The more I looked inward the more I began to wonder how common my shortcomings were with others. How many of my faults are common to the greenkeepers of the world?  Well the only way to say for sure is to list a few of  the biggies and let you guys decide.

  • I am a pleaser - for as long as I can remember I have tied up a great deal of my self worth in pleasing others. Maybe that is what drew me unconsciously to this gig. As Superintendents we spend a great deal of energy preparing our courses for the pleasure of others, most times to unreasonable expectations.
  • I pile a lot on myself - because of this compulsion to please it can lead me to taking too much on at once. Committees, volunteer boards, and work commitments can overwhelm me at times. This inability to say no often leads me to a tipping point leaving me to wonder why I am exhausted. (I am getting a bit better at recognizing this one, but only a bit)
  • I set unrealistic expectations - As I've said in this blog before, sometimes this can be a good thing, you will never know how high you can go unless you raise the bar, but sometimes I personally get too hung up on the outcomes. This can especially become problematic for me with things like nutrition and exercise. It leads to internal negativity and too much stress and I feel defeated even before I've begun. Also makes beginning again more of a challenge.
  • I get too quiet - often times when things get stormy at work or at home I choose to retreat and say nothing instead of confronting the problem. Now sometimes this can be a wise move as many of the little storms that arise in our lives sweep back out to sea without causing us much trouble. In these instances keeping quiet can save me from doing or saying something unnecessarily rash or reactionary. The trick is to train yourself like a good meteorologist to recognize which little storm has the potential to brew into something bigger. Keeping too quiet can often times cause silent resentment to pile up inside and fuel negative coping mechanisms.

You know what? It does feel a bit better to get this out in the open. Self reflection and being honest with ourselves allows us to bring increased awareness to our lives.  Awareness allows us to pause, and that pause can make all the  difference.


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