Monday, April 25, 2011

Golf Balls in the Rough - Seek and You Will Find

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." - Matthew 7:7, The Holy Bible

When I was a kid, we lived on the edge of a golf course. As the sun went down, the stream of golfers would cease, and sometimes my brothers and I would go out to the course to comb the high rough for lost golf balls. In the hour before darkness, we could harvest a couple dozen golf balls.

Even though I was the oldest and the best golfer among my brothers, I rarely found the most balls. After weeks of coming up short, I asked my next younger brother how he did it. Here's what he said: "I just expect them to be there wherever I look. And there they are."

To be honest, I didn't know what he was talking about. I just figured that he was lucky and didn't really know how he did it.

But one evening, I decided to trying doing what he said he was doing. I scanned the rough expecting golf balls to be wherever I looked. The result amazed me. I was finding more golf balls than ever.

I never forgot that experience. I didn't understand the physiological or neurological reasons for it, but I trusted that if I focused my attention on the result I was seeking, it would improve the chances of success.

Later in life, I realized that focusing on the desired result actually helped me do the things I needed to do to achieve it.

Still later, when I became interested in how the brain works, I understood that attention is selective. There's too much going on in the world around you to take it all in. So if you direct your attention to certain things, you're better able to ignore irrelevant information and do a good job of perceiving what you're focusing on.

Seek and you will find. Keep your eye on the ball.

Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., Copyright 2011. Building Personal Strength . (Permission to use image purchased from


squizel said...

35 years ago, I lamented that I had lost my diamond from my ring, presumably in my house...
I'll never forget Stella's response:
"If it's here, we'll find it." Since the diamond is really tiny, clear/thus hard to see, I really did not expect to find it....but I was buoyed by her confidence in her ability and others to find it...and the search did turn up my diamond!...I've lost it 2 times since and always found it!
One will not try as hard, be as thorough in the search, think of new ways or places to look, unless one has some expectation of success.

squizel said...

Of course the amazing story of George Bernard Dantzig who was studying statistics at U of Berkeley in 1939, but arrived late to his lecture by Jerzy Neyman. On the board were 2 open problems in statistical theory that he assumed were homework problems to be solved. He worked feverishly on the home work for days but was unable to finish turn it in on time...Long overdue, he walked into his Professor's office and apologized for taking so long to do the homework, but they seemed more difficult than usual. The professor told him to throw it on his desk...on the heap of papers and he thought his work would be lost forever. About 6 weeks later, professor came to is house excited...that he had solved them as they were 2 famous unsolved problems in statistics.
He expected them to be solved, and thought he would appear a poor student if he did not solve stuck with it...he expected there would be an answer if he just worked at it hard enough.

Kathleen Scott said...

And in another way, we find what we're looking for, good or bad. We bring our own happiness.

Sean said...

There is another interesting concept here, one I like to call "faith". People who have faith that they can do what needs to be done are far, far more successful than those who do not have the confidence in their own convictions.