Gary is a top golfer on the PGA Tour. He has golfed, and golfed well, all his life. He was highly ranked as an amateur, seen as a can’t miss prospect in college, and is currently a very popular player on the Tour. But something has always eluded him.
Gary has never won a big tournament. He’s won a handful of small events, but he has yet to hoist a trophy from a major tournament.
In golfing circles, he is considered one of the two best to never have won a major. He is getting to the end of his career and many experts question if he will ever will the big one.
In his most recent tournament, disappointment stuck again. He was tied for the lead heading into the final hole. He lined up a 15 foot putt for the chance to tie and send it into a playoff. The putt was not easy, but it was one he had made hundreds of time.
The reporters covering the event asked if he felt he would ever win a major. Defeated, but not destroyed, Gary responded with a simple yes. He was upset with this most recent setback, but he views it as moving one step closer to his inevitable victory. He knows one day he will add a major trophy to his trophy case.
Herb is also on high level golfer on the PGA Tour. Like Gary, he has excelled at golf his entire life.
Also like Gary, he is touted as the other best player to never have won a major.
He has a handful of trophies from smaller tournaments but he has a spot in his trophy case reserved for that missing major title. However, he is seen as past his prime and his chances of taking home a major trophy are dwindling. And he is feeling the pressure.
The pressure was never more evident than at his most recent major. He played well and was in contention right until the end.
But a few bad drives and a missed putt here and there and he finished one stroke behind the winner.
Crushed, Herb is asked if he will ever win the big one. At a loss for words, he admits that just maybe he has ruined his best opportunity. When he goes home he is convinced he will never win a major and fills in the space once reserved in his trophy case.
Story #1 vs. Story #2
Each story is an example of a person’s response to letdown. Gary and Herb each added another notch of disappointment on their not-so-championship belt. They each finished one shot back at achieving their dream, and while both golfers had the same history, their reactions could not have been more opposite.
Gary failed (again) but continued to belief in himself. Herb lost (again) and his belief was crushed. Gary saw this defeat as one step closer to his first win. Herb was fixed on his failure and it fogged his future.
Has Gary won a major? No. But he sees it as “no for now.”
Has Herb won a major? No. And he sees it as “no for good.”
Our lives will be filled with a ton of nos. Do we experience a no and think no forever? Or do we experience a no and think no for now.
*Gary and Herb are fictional characters
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