DISCS & ZEN – A Game of Gaining and Losing Control

I will admit to you that I have a fear of flying. It’s not a debilitating fear, I still get on airplanes and maintain my composure without having any type of substance to help, but when that airplane pulls out onto the runway and those engines begin to rev up, I really begin to feel the fear. How I get through this, I suppose, is by reminding myself how wonderful whatever trip I’m about to go on will be and getting through this fear will be worth it.

Interestingly enough, I have no fear of heights and I think I really have less of a fear of death than most people (as a medic firefighter, I believe face I it little more often than most). I also have no fear of cars and as they all say you have a better chance of dying in a car accident than in an airplane crash. So I will take my admission one step further and state that my fear of flying is not necessarily a fear of being up in the air or dying in an airplane, it is a fear of not being in control.

I think for many people this fear comes standard. It may manifest itself in a multitude of different ways including phobias, personality traits, and behaviors. Most people do not like to give up control.

It is interesting, then, to ask a question: do we really have control of ourselves? Obviously most of us believe we can control our behaviors and our actions. But where do our actions begin? They begin with our thinking and our feelings. Our control of ourselves begins with the controlling of our thoughts and feelings.

Continuing with the Zen and the Art of Disc Golf metaphor used in my book: when we hold disc golf up and look at it from a certain angle, disc golf can become a window to ourselves and to our lives. When we step up on the tee pad we have control over the type of throw we are going use, our disc selection, and we have control of our thoughts about the shot. But all control ends when that disc leaves your hands. The flight of that disc and the lie of that disc is dependent on a multitude of factors from the wind, the trees, the terrain – Once that disc leaves your hands control is lost.

Really successful disc golfers know this even if they have never really labeled it in this way. They know upon release, that they have done everything that they could do to control shot but once they let go, all control is lost. The only control you have over your round begins in your head, is transmitted through your body, to your hand, and ends when that plastic leaves your hand. In a way, every shot in our game is a combination of gaining and losing control – over and over again.

In life it is the same. Truly successful people understand that success comes with risk, and to never do anything that scares us or makes us feel like we are not in control would lead to never being truly successful. Success begins with gaining control over ourselves followed by losing control by putting yourself out there to win.

Every blog, every podcast, every tweet, and especially the book is a combination of controlling content – then releasing it to the world and hoping it flies the way I hope it will. But if I never would have let go, I wouldn’t be living the dream that I am now, being able to make disc golf a part of my living.

That being said – I release another post, hoping it flies straight and hits chains the way I am hoping it will!

Patrick McCormick

– Author of Zen & The Art of Disc Golf
– Host of The Zen Disc Golf Podcast

Featured photo by @alrightguyy on Instagram

DISCS & ZEN – Growing the sport by owning the sport.

On the Zen Disc Golf Podcast we talk a ton about growing the sport of disc golf and we like to ask the question, “What does growing the sport mean to you? Is it an active process or is it something we hope just sort of happens by dropping the hashtag #growthesport? A few weeks ago, I asked that question on my twitter and got a lot of fantastic responses, all of them really great and unique in there own way.

Over the past few years I have really wanted to get some people from the fire department (where I work) to come out and play, but could never seem to get anyone out on the course. After a long time of failing to make any great stride in getting them to come out and play, I began rationalizing in my mind that it’s just near impossible to interest a bunch of crossfitting, football obsessed, alpha-males to commit to an hour of throwing a bunch of frisbees in the woods.

Then I was transferred to a new station and for some reason I decided I would try a new approach with my new crew. Instead of waiting for them to find out that I played this “weird thing called disc golf” and then putting myself in a defensive position to try and defend snide remarks, I decided to flip the script and go offensive.

I brought my bag of discs in the station and dropped them on the coffee table in the day room and began re-organizing my bag in front of everyone. Then, as I was asked “What are those?” I began answering – “These are disc golf discs. If you’ve never played, it’s a blast! I’m playing tomorrow. I would love to take you out on the course and teach you. I know you’ll love it.”

Within the next few weeks, I had 3 crew members on the course learning to throw. Almost all of them have since bought their first set of discs and year passes to the course. As they put it, they are “all in.” We even have an upcoming tournament between two of our fire stations coming up soon.

Why had it taken me YEARS to get someone from work out on the course? Because instead of merely being defensive over the game – I OWNED it. By owning it, I mean I took pride in it. I showed an enthusiasm which intrigued others and that proved to be way more powerful than casually just mentioning “I play disc golf” and anticipating negative remarks.

There are many ways people are out there growing the sport. In Episode 3 of the Zen Disc Golf Podcast we talk to Good Up Disc Golf, a group of guys in Texas bringing Disc Golf to the public schools and youth. In (upcoming) Episode 4  I get to talk to Alan Hargreaves who brought disc golf to many while doing mental health outreach. But growing disc golf in numbers both small and large really starts with us as being ambassadors of the sport. I admit that this small change in my own attitude has grown the sport by at least 10 new players this past month. At least 1 member of my fire station has already brought his son out to the course, introducing the next generation. All because I decided to OWN it and show the same enthusiasm I show on the podcast or in my book to my co-workers.

It’s really interesting seeing what can be achieved with a solid shift in attitude.

Patrick McCormick
– Author of Zen & The Art of Disc Golf
– Host of The Zen Disc Golf Podcast

Featured photo by @skaibitriinu (Instagram)