More than 16 years ago, my friend, Tom gifted me a set of golf clubs that he purchased at a yard sale for $10. He tossed them into the back of my truck on a snowy day in December, wrapped together by a small, red ribbon.
He and our friend, Jeff, had been trying desperately to get me to play, but I had refused, thinking that golf was stupid, boring, and elitist.
When I found the clubs, I immediately called Tom. “Did you leave a set of golf clubs in the back of my car?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” he said. “Did I?”
I hung up and called Jeff.
“Did you leave a set of golf clubs in the back of my car?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” he said. “Did I?”
The two hadn’t prearranged this identical response. They are both identically annoying.
So began my journey into the game of golf. Jeff and Tom took me out on an afternoon that spring to play the game for the first time. Jeff told me to move quickly. “You can hit the ball as often as you want, but just don’t stand over the ball forever. Swing and move.”
Tom told me to hit a two-iron off the tee.
If you know anything about golf, you know that one person had my best interests at heart. The other clearly did not.
But I fell in love with the game almost instantly, and it changed my life. Made my life exponentially better.
That set of ancient, yard sale irons was one of the best gifts I have ever received.
Six years later, I called my friend, Kim, and asked if I could introduce her husband, Andrew, to golf. I warned her that golf might remove him from the house for hours at a time, but she agreed. She thought it sounded like a good opportunity for him to spend time with friends.
So I took Andrew to the range before playing our first round together. His first swing of the driver sent the ball farther and straighter than I had ever hit a ball in my life.
I couldn’t believe it. I also hated him.
Thankfully, he couldn’t hit an iron for a year, and his putting is still suspect today, but in a surprisingly short period of time, Andrew became one of the best golfers of our bunch. A legitimately excellent golfer.
Kim isn’t exactly thrilled to find him practicing his swing in a grocery store aisle or losing him to hundreds of hours of YouTube instructional videos. A few years ago, she called to inform me that Andrew was playing alone, in the rain. “Is this normal?” she asked.
“No,” I said. “Definitely not.”
However, Andrew and I played golf while in a snowstorm (the snow started after we had teed off), and we played golf more than once with snow on the ground, so perhaps it’s more normal than I implied.
But today, Andrew loves golf. In the same way that Tom and Jeff brought something into my life that I adore, I did the same for Andrew.
Last spring, after years of coercion, I finally convinced my friend, Rob, to give golf a try. I handed him the same clubs that Tom gave me long ago and took him to play his first round. After two seasons of playing the game, Rob is also hooked. He isn’t as good as Andrew, but his game is coming along well. Being retired allows him to play more often than me.
Eventually, Rob purchased his own set of clubs and returned the old set to me.
A month ago, I handed those clubs to my friend, Chris, also newly retired, and took him for his first round of golf.
Rob joined us.
Not only did Chris immediately love the game, but it turns out that he is a natural as well. He hits the ball clean and far, moves quickly, and he asks all the right questions. He’s playing well enough already to fit right in with the gang.
Chris will eventually purchase a set of clubs of his own and hand me back that original set, and I’ll wait to pass those clubs on to the next person.
I recently gave my second set of clubs to my friend, Kaia. We have yet to play, and given the onset of winter, we may need to wait until spring, but she is my next victim. I hope.
There is great joy in passing on a passion to another person and watching them fall in love, just like you once did. Knowing how much the game of golf has brought to my life, it’s thrilling to see someone begin a similar journey, knowing all that is to come for them.
Expanding a person’s life might be the greatest gift one person can offer another.
I’ve done something similar in storytelling. Through my book on storytelling, my workshops, and now my online course, I’ve brought the joy and power of storytelling to thousands of people. Many of those folks use storytelling in their everyday life. Others have used storytelling to build their businesses, grow their confidence, and improve their mental health. Many have eventually found their way to a Moth stage (or have been strong-armed onto the stage by me) to compete in a StorySLAM, just like I did for the first time back in July of 2011.
Like golf, they have discovered the multitude of ways that storytelling can change your life, too.
If you have the opportunity to expand someone’s life, do it. If there is something that you are passionate about and think others would be equally passionate about, share your passion with them. Invite them into your world. Open their eyes to something new.
I cannot recommend it highly enough.