I have a friend who shall remain nameless for reasons you will see in a moment.
I introduced my friend to golf seven years ago after securing permission from his wife.
Golf can be a time consuming game and my friend can be obsessive compulsive, so best to ensure that his spouse in onboard with the commitment before proceeding.
I took him to the driving range, and he clobbered his first ball off the tee farther than I could hit my own drive.
I wasn’t pleased.
Happily, it turned out that he wasn’t exactly a natural. He hacked away at his irons for months, and I once saw him take more shots out of a sand trap than you would believe. But within a year, he was playing as well as any of my friends who play better than me, which is nearly all of them.
Very quickly, he became one of the best golfers of our group.
In fact, in the past seven years of playing golf
- He has won his Thursday night league three times.
- He has three holes-in-one.
To bring those three holes-in-one into context, of all the people I play with regularly, only one person has one hole-in-one, and he played golf in high school and college. He’s been playing since he was a kid.
Three league victories and three holes-in-one in seven years is ridiculous. Impressive and infuriating and a testament to my friend’s commitment to the game.
But don’t admire my friend for his golf game. Here is why my friend is to be admired:
He didn’t tell me about any of these things. At least not unprompted.
His nephew told me about his first hole-in-one. It was only after I joked that he was still looking for his second hole-in-one that he sheepishly admitted getting one a few months earlier. And yesterday, while telling someone that the jerk already has two holes-in-one, he sheepishly admitted that he has a third now, scored more than a year ago.
Three hole-in-one. None mentioned until well after the fact and only after being prompted.
It was only after I asked him how he did in his league championship on Sunday that he told me he’d won.
“Your first?” I asked.
“Actually, my third.”
He had won his league championship in two previous years and never told me.
It also took me more than a decade to learn that he also has a PhD. That perhaps I should be referring to him with the honorific “Doctor.”
Except that he would kill me if I did.
These are the kind of people who we should admire. These are the kind of people worthy of admiration.
It’s easy to find someone willing to brag about their accomplishments. It’s even easier to find someone willing to exaggerate and even lie about their success. Trump does it constantly, and his Republican sycophants routinely support him. He stands before podiums and cameras and simply lies about things that he’s never done.
Small things and enormous things. Petty things and monstrous things.
- He falsifies TIME magazine covers with his image and hangs them in his golf courses.
- He brags about an enormous Electoral victory when it was actually one of the slimmest in history.
- He boasts about enormous inauguration day crowds that did not exist.
- He has called reporters, pretending to be a publicist, so that he could brag about himself.
- He brags about taxing China via tariffs when any sensible person knows that the consumer pays the cost of tariffs.
- He touts a border wall that has increased by less than five miles since he has been in office.
- He claims victory over a virus that is still killing close to 1,000 Americans every day.
And now – thanks to the New York Times obtaining and reporting on his taxes – we’ve learned that he’s also broke. Trump has paid less in federal tax over the past 15 years combined than I paid in my recent quarterly tax estimate. He’s losing money year after year. He has far more debt than income with even more loans coming due soon. And he’s almost out of money to plug up those financial holes.
He also cheats and lies about his golf game. Constantly.
Finding braggers and boasters is easy in today’s world. It’s even easier to find liars who exaggerate achievements and invent accomplishments. Bernie Madoff bragged for years about his investment prowess and wiped away entire fortunes with his lies. Companies like Theranos were conceived on someone’s claim of success that was ultimately nonexistent.
I admire the hell out of my friend for his enormous success – both in golf and his career – but even more for his remarkable humility.
People who are confident need not boast of their accomplishments. People who are secure in their talent and ability need not tell the world of their success. People who work incredibly hard to achieve remarkable goals do not derive self-worth through the attention of others but from the pride that comes with achievement.
The kind of people who should be running our companies and schools and government should be working hard on behalf of their constituents and allowing others to speak highly of them.
We need more people like my friend in positions of leadership. Now more than ever.
I don’t mention my friend’s name because he would kill me if I did.
He’s that good.