Unprepared for Your Finest Hour? There’s a Mulligan for That!
“To each there comes in their lifetime a special moment when they are figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing, unique to them and fitted to their talents. What a tragedy if that moment finds them unprepared or unqualified for that which could have been their finest hour.” – Sir Winston Churchill
After a long government career as a Member of Parliament and in multiple cabinet posts, Winston Churchill fell out of favor with the British political establishment in general and several Prime Ministers in particular. His ten-year absence from the political scene beginning in 1929 is widely regarded by historians as “the wilderness years.” But rather than sulk off into obscurity, he continued to remain relevant during this period and share his voice through his writings.
Churchill’s iconic Mulligan resulted from his vocal opposition to the rise of Hitler’s Nazi dictatorship. As the reality of war settled over Great Britain, his unique brand of leadership was desperately needed by his country. Indeed, life tapped the statesman on the shoulder and his resolve and inspirational leadership as Prime Minister played a vital role in the eventual allied victory in Europe.
Leading Britain in its finest hour proved to be his finest hour!
In golf, a Mulligan, as you may know, is an extra stroke allowed in informal play that doesn’t count on your scorecard. Applied to any life circumstance, it’s a do-over, a second chance to get something right that went wrong through bad luck or poor execution.
Whether in golf or in life, Mulligans are either given or taken. Let me explain. While playing a friendly round of golf, a buddy hits a bad shot and is not happy about it. Feeling generous (and maybe ahead by a few strokes anyway) I say, “Take a Mulligan!” At which point he gratefully tees up another ball, only this time, let’s say, he hits the shot of his life and the ball rolls in for a hole-in-one! This, of course, is an extreme example of exaggeration to put across a point.
A few holes later, finding myself losing now to the same buddy whose swagger is getting harder to tolerate, I hit a shot out of bounds. Without waiting for his acknowledgement, I quickly tee up another ball, hit it, and declare, “I’m taking a Mulligan!”
So, you see, give and take!
In Churchill’s case, his incessant blustering about the evils of Nazi Germany is how he began to take a Mulligan. Being elected Prime Minister was Parliament’s way of giving him one.
Let’s apply this to life where the stakes are likely higher than a couple of duffers playing a round of golf but much lower than the actual balance of world power.
We’ve all experienced being offended or taking offense, right? The boss yells at us for a silly mistake; a colleague blames us for their mistake on a project; a friend misses a long-standing lunch appointment; our significant other forgets our anniversary. Now, we didn’t ask for these situations, but we do get to choose our response. Most tend to respond emotionally. The depth and breadth of that response is left to the mercy of how we feel in the moment. But, if we predispose ourselves to give others the benefit of the doubt, well, that’s a horse of a different color!
You see, a Mulligan mindset teaches us to have patience and curiosity when someone lets us down. It readies us to choose to resist the impulse to become easily offended. It disciplines us to allow others to be human and concedes our mutual weakness and imperfection.
It’s been said that we judge ourselves by our motives, but we judge others by their actions, their behavior. To give a Mulligan is to forgive another of their misstep. It is born from grace that we offer to others. And while we hope that they would likewise grant us a second chance when the miscue is ours, taking a Mulligan does not mean that we dismiss our offense with no effort to make amends.
To take a Mulligan has a much different connotation. In a world where we are often our own worst critic, some experts assert that 80% of our self-talk is negative. How would we feel if we could cut that by half? By implementing a strategy of taking Mulligans, we stop beating ourselves up over petty little mistakes. With practice, granting ourselves do-overs will even improve our overall performance as we intentionally learn from our mistakes.
Taking Mulligans has the power to prepare and qualify us for our finest hour!
So, what’s in this for me, you ask? That’s easy. I’m tapping you on the shoulder right now. Starting today, you are invited to take the Mulligan Challenge, which is this: every day make a conscious effort to give someone a Mulligan, take a Mulligan yourself, and invite someone else to join the Mulligan Challenge!
Whatever might stand in the way between you and a life well lived, this is your moment!
We can change the world—one Mulligan at a time! Are you in?
If this philosophy resonates with you, you will love reading The Gift of Mulligans, which launches on National Mulligan Day—October 24, 2019!
For a sneak peak and/or to get on the pre-order list, just send me a message with “Give Me a Mulligan” in the subject line to:
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