A ZEN CONVERSATION – Part 2 – “On Self Discipline and Selflessness”

[An ongoing interview between the gurus of the mental side of disc golf – Patrick McCormick author of Zen & the Art of Disc Golf and Tim Seward of MindBodyDisc.com]

Tim: One of the things that always strikes me as ironic is that most of the things that grow our sport don’t involve actually playing our sport.  I know for me, I give up a lot of playing time to write this blog, keep up the Instagram and Twitter feeds, and do other disc golf related projects.

It’s so hard to have the self discipline, especially on a really nice day, to not spend my whole day playing when I know I have writing to do.  What was your motivation to stay disciplined in the process?  How did you have the self control and drive to give up a thing you clearly love so much to write this book?

Patrick:  To tell the truth this book took so long because I would go through periods of really focused writing, then life would happen and it would be set aside for a while. Then all of a sudden I would hit the course and the have some small revelation and would often I would either take a quick note or drop everything and leave the course to go write about it.  I believe the secret to productivity is routine. I was far more productive when I kept a disciplined routine.

I have always been a project oriented person. I love the feeling of completing something I can be proud of. It’s sort of a high I chase. I hate having unfinished things out there. Sometimes I involve other people and promise completion to ensure that I actually complete somthing. In this case social networking was my go to. As I continued to promote an unfinished book I added more and more people to Instagram and Facebook that I felt like I was promising a product to.  Even though those people had no idea, I continued the project because I felt like I owed them. I also thanked many of those people in the back of my book.

Tim:  Ah the power of a routine!  I’m actually going to be writing a blog post about that sometime soon.  In addition to just finding time, having a routine, and just plain sacrifice, I’m guessing a component of that question is how did you find your “why”?  Without a strong why, none of that can be very effective.  How can our fellow disc golfer find their “why” for the things they want to do in their lives?  I think that applies not only in writing books and playing disc golf, but across most of people’s goals and aspirations.

Patrick:  As people, we are always looking for “why”. For me it was the idea that maybe something I have to say could improve other people’s lives. Why keep something like that a secret?  So I guess you could say instead of asking why I asked “why  not?” In the end, people read it or they don’t. They get it or they don’t. But even if it only impacts a single person, then why not do my part and give it a shot.

In my book, I talk about “leaving everything better than you found it”. It is a principle I try to live by and knowing than I cannot live forever, the only thing I can leave leave behind is a legacy. Why not try to make it great?

Tim:  That’s really cool that you put it that way.  I know a lot of super successful people that I read about say they start with the legacy in mind and that shapes their day to day decisions.  What’s that old saying?  Something like “A person is not truly dead until their name crosses the lips of a living person for the last time”?  I guess we all have such a limited amount of time on this earth that it’s pretty important to do something meaningful with it.

Patrick:  That’s a great way to put it.

Tim:  With your career choice and the things you have said so far, it seems like you have a sincere desire to really help as many other people as you can.  One of my favorite people, Zig Ziglar, is most well known for saying, “You can have anything in life you want if you just help enough other people get what they want.”

Patrick:  The most important part of that is understanding it is not a tit for tat.  The universe doesn’t OWE you anything.

Tim:  You are so right about that!  You do for others merely for the sake of doing for others.  Then and only then does the universe return the favor.  It wasn’t until I got older that I really started to grasp how true that was.  It’s a really rare and admirable quality and I’m always curious how people get it.  So many people never do and they go through life totally self centered.  You see that on the disc golf course all the time.  Some people really root for everyone they are playing with and others wish for you to hit a tree.  I think that the attitude on the course is such a good indicator of how they treat everyone in their life.  Was an attitude of service to others instilled in you by your parents, have you always had it or did you get it another way?

Patrick:  An attitude of service was instilled in me very slowly. It wasn’t one thing or one person. It was just the realization that “As you give, you shall be given to.” You just sort of start seeing it happen in your life and in peoples lives around. Watch how people live. See if the things they are doing are making them happy or miserable. You can always trace it to their daily attitudes.




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