Taking a Mulligan
A “mulligan” is a term used in golf to describe a do-over, another shot, a chance to make up for a bad shot or club selection. Mulligans are usually reserved for a round of golf involving friends, unless one the friends too competitive to grant his counterpart’s request for a mulligan. There was group of guys that I used to play golf with, and one of them, Donny, would never ask if he could take a mulligan. Immediately after hitting a bad shot, while the ball was still in the air, he would shout “I’m takin’ a mulligan!” And he would do exactly that. During one round of golf in Florida Donny took FIVE mulligans…on the same hole!
Now before some of you make a decision to take up the sport of golf because you can take mulligans until you learn how to swing a club, I have to warn you that mulligans are not a part of the professional game! Believe me, Tiger Woods has never followed a bad shot in the Masters Golf Tournament with “I’m sorry, but I didn’t particularly like that last shot. Can I get a mulligan on that one?” Just doesn’t work that way.
Looking back your life have you wished that at some point you could’ve taken a mulligan on one bad choice that you made? One questionable decision? How about the whole thing? Do you just wish that you could just start over?
There was a time when all I did was look back…
Growing up I had always dreamed of being an attorney. I didn’t know what kind of attorney I wanted to be. I don’t think that I was even aware that there were different types of attorneys, i.e. Corporate, Criminal, Defense, Civil, etc. I just knew that I wanted to be a lawyer, just like my older cousin Gerald Topazi (who would later become a judge). A lawyer. Yep, that’s what I was going to be.
To use the old cliché, “A funny thing happened along the way.”
When I graduated from John Carroll High School in 1970 I enrolled at The University of Alabama (in Tuscaloosa) to pursue my dream. The problem was that I was more prepared to party than I was to study. I joined a fraternity, became a weekend alcoholic, and skipped far too many classes. I moved back to Birmingham at the end of my freshman year and enrolled at the University of Alabama in Birmingham (UAB) for the Fall Semester of 1971.
The next few years were a blur…dropped out of college, got a job selling women’s shoes, went to work in my parent’s grocery store, got married in 1974, became a father in 1976, and again in 1979.
On my twenty-seventh birthday I was married, with two children (Brian and Christian), a house note, a car note, and a stay at home wife. Oh, and by the way, I was bringing home the whopping total of $200 per week. It all happened so fast that I wasn’t sure just how it happened…I woke up one morning and I was old, or at least I felt like it! The idea of being an attorney was nothing more than a fleeting memory.
Fast forward to my thirty-seventh birthday; I was divorced and remarried (to Jackie, my wife and best friend), with two children (the same ones!), a house note, a car note, and a wife that worked as hard as I did. I was the co-owner of a beauty shop (that I didn’t want to own), and for the first couple of years bringing home $200 per week would have seemed like a lot of money! Thank God that Jackie was making money behind the chair; we would have starved. The idea of being an attorney wasn’t even a memory.
Throughout all of those years, I blamed everyone else for the fact that I was where I was, doing what I was doing. But deep down inside, I knew that I was to blame for my shortcomings. No one was holding a gun to my head, making me party too much, drop out of school, and get married at the tender age of twenty-one. I was the reason that I wasn’t an attorney or a corporate exec, wearing a suit, driving a fancy car, making the big bucks. Quite honestly, I wasn’t envious of the suits, or the cars, or the money.
What was it?
These people, the execs, attorneys, doctors, and white-collar professionals of the world had done something that I had failed to do…they had used what God had given them to get a college degree and chase their dreams. I had settled for less. What really chapped my behind was that while I may not have been the brightest light bulb in a room, I certainly wasn’t the dimmest. I knew that I was wasting my most precious gift; my mind. As I was approaching the intersection of college and the rest of my life, I had taken the short cut to the rest of my life; wrong choice. I never beat myself up over it, but I did wish that I had been a bit wiser.
And while I never asked for a mulligan, never even wished for one, I often wondered what my life would have been like if I had stayed the course and finished law school. I didn’t spend too much time dwelling on it, though. What good what it have done to keep looking back?
Today there’s no looking back.
As I anticipate celebrating my fifty-seventh birthday in September, things have certainly changed. I never look back; I’m too busy looking forward. I’m happily married. The boys are now men. Jackie and I still owe for a couple of things, but that’s the American way, right? Still not makin’ a ton of money, but if you’ve visited before, you know that for me, it’s not about the money. And, I still don’t have that law degree. That’s okay. I’m happy, and I’m proud of who I am.
What happened? On November 5, 2006, the anniversary of my personal epiphany ( see The Epiphany), I made a commitment to be the best person I could be, never again settling for less, using all the gifts and talents that God had given me.
The result? I have been blessed with a period of personal growth and enlightenment beyond my comprehension. Our salon has soared to heights that have amazed industry experts. And perhaps most importantly, my relationship with God has become the driving force in my life.
And that mulligan? Today I wouldn’t take a mulligan on any decision that I’ve made in life. You see, every decision that I’ve ever made, every choice that I’ve opted for, and every step I’ve taken has made me the person that I am today. It was all part of God’s perfect plan for me. If I had done one thing differently, just one thing, Jackie may not be my wife, and I may not have two great sons. I may not be in a business that allows me to grow the careers of others, and offers me a platform to share my faith with those who will listen. I may not be sitting at this laptop at this very moment, writing The Seed of Hope and telling you how blessed and fortunate I am.
How about you?
Are you looking at the past, instead of the future? Still regretting a decision that you made years ago? Wishing that you had turned left instead of right? Do you spend a lot of time wondering what you might have been and what you may have been doing? Are you wishing for a mulligan, a chance to do things over?
Please, please, don’t make the same mistake that I did; let go of the past. I spent so many years looking over my shoulder that I couldn’t see the fulfilling life that waited just ahead.
We can’t undo the past, but we can make the most of each day that we are given. Make a commitment to yourself to be all that you can be. Make a commitment to God to take advantage of every talent that He has blessed you with. Plant the seed in your mind that you have everything in life to do whatever you want to do.
Don’t think that you have any “gifts”? Make that commitment, to yourself and to God. Get ready for the harvest!
See you next Monday.