It’s All Relative

I’m terrible at golf. But I keep playing because I enjoy being outside with friends. I also respect the many lessons of life the game has to teach. One such lesson I was taught recently while golfing with my cousin. I’ll first say my cousin is a phenomenal golfer. The gap between our abilities is wider than the Grand Canyon.

At one point during our round, we found ourselves on a par 3. My cousin grabbed his club, lined up his feet, adjusted his grip, and swung away—as beautiful and consistent as it gets. The ball landed right in line with the flag but about 15 feet to the left. It caught a hill and rolled away from the hole. He ended up on the green but about 25-30 feet away from the pin.

My cousin threw his head back and let out a frustrated sigh. I looked at him confused. How could he be upset? If that was my shot I’d be flipping my club like I just hit a walk-off homer in game 7 of the World Series. Then I’d turn to my golf mates with both hands pointing to the sky and say, “Easy game”.

Simply put, my cousin was frustrated with a shot that would’ve had me elated. What gives?

I asked him. His answer was simple. “It’s all relative.”

It was an answer that was equally insightful as it was hurtful. That shot would’ve been awesome for me because I’m terrible at golf. It was terrible for him because he’s awesome at golf.

Self-improvement creates a paradox. The better you get at something and the more progress you make, the less you notice. It’s really easy to adapt to an improved state and forget where you used to be.

Adding $50,000 to a $100,000 net worth feels like monumental growth. But growing a $500,000 net worth by $50,000 feels less impressive. Adding it to a net worth of $1,000,000 almost feels like nothing.

When you bench press 95 pounds, adding 15 pounds to it feels like miles. If you bench press 300 pounds, adding 15 pounds feels like inches.

When you’re terrible at golf, any decent shot feels like you’re on the cusp of the PGA Tour. When you’re a great golfer, a decent shot can feel like a terrible one.

Making progress comes at a cost of higher expectations. When expectations outpace progress, you can end up feeling like the results aren’t good enough.

Insanity or Progress?

It’s often said that insanity is doing the same thing over again expecting different results. Most attribute this to Albert Einstein. Although, that’s not actually true.

The saying is also overused and often wrong—maybe even harmful.

Break-throughs are preceded by a lot of trying and feeling like you’re failing. I admit the line between going crazy and making progress can get blurry at times.

This sums it up nicely:

Society is impatient. Our growing conveniences come at the cost of our faster-to-grow expectations. Our world is more connected than ever. And as a result, we compare ourselves with a wider pool of people— ballooning our angst for bigger and faster results.

That’s tough because progress is usually slow and tedious. The middle part often feels like failing. The peak of hopelessness usually comes just before unlocking success.

Dale Carnegie once said:

“Most of the important things in this world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying where there seemed to be no hope at all.”

Growing a business.

Advancing knowledge.

Getting strong.

Building wealth.

Raising kids.

Worthy pursuits take time—lots of time. They also require redundant efforts and a heck of a lot of patience.
Most mistakes can be traced back to wanting something but wanting it faster than it’s coming.

You tend to think someone else has it figured out and you don’t. So even when you’re making progress you don’t notice. Or you don’t care because you see someone else doing it better. So you seek shortcuts.

When you seek shortcuts, all that happens is success tends to get cut short.

Winning comes down to doing the obvious and simple things over and over again. Somewhere along the way, you’ll feel like you’re losing. You’ll feel like you’re standing still or going insane—probably both. The path is rarely straight and the road is almost never smooth.

When things are moving too slowly or you think someone else has it figured out better than you, remember; it’s all relative.

Here’s to making money matter!