The ancient Chinese proverbs had a saying, wu-wei (pronounced ooo-way), which is a framework that helps guide you through your life.
It refers to the “dynamic, effortless, and unselfconscious state of mind of a person who is optimally active and effective. People in wu-wei feel as if they are doing nothing, while at the same time they might be creating a brilliant work of art, smoothly negotiating a complex social situation, or even bringing the entire world into harmonious order” (1).
Tapping into a state of wu-wei requires that we work or act with a bigger purpose in mind, a purpose both within and outside of ourselves.
“Wu-wei involves giving yourself up to something that, because it is bigger than you, can be shared by others.”
After reading these words, I began thinking of how, if at all, I tap into wu-wei in my own life., and then it hit me.
Golf is my wu-wei.
In his book, Trying Not to Try, Edward Slingerland discusses finding and harnessing the power of wu-wei. He notes that even the thought of driving somewhere, the anticipation, or the preparation for something, can begin the process of placing your mind and body in this state. Further, we only find wu-wei once we become one with our environment, once we find ourselves molded into a mind-body-environmental connection.
I quickly realized, I get these feelings as I prepare for a round of golf, or grab my clubs on the way to the range.
I forget about everything else when I have a club in my hand.
I become one with the golf course, one with nature.
I understand and believe in the greater purpose of golf.
I connect with a community of empowered athletes, who share in that bigger purpose, whether they know it or not.
Golf is my wu-wei.
Golf is ALL of our wu-wei.
What is the bigger purpose of golf?
Golf is a vehicle of empowerment and this empowerment comes in two central forms.
First, golf offers us empowerment in the form of self-improvement.
We use the game of golf to explore our ability to grow and improve. Every golfer wants to find lower scores and play better, more consistent, golf. But why?
At the end of the day, the majority of us aren’t making the PGA or LPGA Tour. We don’t even play the game “competitively.”
But yet, we care about what we score.
We think about the good (and bad) shots.
We dream about having better ones.
The game of golf is a tool that can be welded to seek and find self-betterment.
Physical, mental, and emotional, the game of golf is a journey of self-empowerment and improvement.
Secondly, the game of golf brings empowerment in the form of community.
Like Slingerland said above, “...can be shared by others.”
We play golf because of the community.
We play golf because for four hours, we come together with friends, family and a community that is inspired by the same passions and goals.
We play golf not because of the game itself but because of the empowerment that it brings to our lives – both in the form of self-improvement and community.
“An essential fact of wu-wei is that it’s not just about the experience unfolding within the mind of an isolated individual but also about social connections between people” (1).
Golf is my wu-wei.
Golf is our wu-wei.
Let’s go low.
About Carter Schmitz
I graduated from the University of St. Thomas in 2019 with a business degree and a minor in exercise science. While there, I played football (as long as we consider being a kicker, playing football) and found two of the deepest passions in life - learning and human performance. Since then, I have become a certified strength coach, TPI Specialist and have had the opportunity to train hundreds of athletes ranging from the middle school to the professional level.
I believe in building humans first, athletes second.
I believe that everybody has extraordinarily high amounts of value to offer.
I believe that the pursuit of improvement will lead to growth, no matter the outcomes.
With my writing, I strive to break down and apply complex ideas in order to boost understanding, draw comparisons from seemingly separated and opposing topics, and empower growth in my readers. Knowledge and understanding are power, and they create the foundation of improvement. Moving forward, I plan on continuing to seek the betterment of my athletes, myself and my community, empowering growth along the way.
Be sure to check out my Instagram and YouTube channel for more content:
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/coach_carter_schmitz/
YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQ7DxYHKGuZIykzVIaxp3XQ
- Slingerland, E. (2015). Trying Not to Try: Ancient China, modern science, and the power of spontaneity. Broadway Books..