The last time I played golf, my driver mysteriously disappeared from my golf bag. I didn’t realize he was gone until I went to get him for my first shot on the first hole. To describe my reaction as shock, well, that’s an understatement. It is not a club that leaves the bag except to hit, and would not accidentally be left anywhere. And the last time we saw him, he was safe in my bag. (For those of you unfamiliar with golf, the driver is a crucial and highly visible golf club. It is the largest club in golf and it attracts the most attention because it allows you to hit the ball with the greatest distance and This is a very important club.)

So when I went to play and my driver was nowhere to be found, I couldn’t hide how mentally bewildered I was. My golf buddies had already hit. A group was waiting behind us. We had 18 holes in front of me and I had to act. I had no choice but to grab my 3 wood.

Unfortunately, my 3 wood is my worst club. If I hit it perfectly, which isn’t often the case, it produces a nice solid shot. But it was never a club I could rely on, not a club I was comfortable with, and not a club I wanted to replace my driver with. However, as the second longest club in my bag, it was my best bet.

And the result was. . . a great shot, which went about as far as I hit my driver. I was amazed, as was my husband. And all the way through (still, totally bewildered and fuzzy, brain unable to let go of trying to figure out where the hell my driver went) I kept hitting that 3 wood long and about straight, definitely no worse than me had hit my driver. Sometimes even better.

As my round progressed and I tried to figure out what was going on, several realizations crossed my mind.

First, my current rider hadn’t maximized my full potential for distance and power. Yet I, who need all the help I can get in my golf game (isn’t everyone), have had no interest in making changes for years. Despite hints here and there from my husband, who just wants me to play the best golf possible, I refused to see how a new driver could possibly help me. Instead, I shut down any opportunity to improve my golf game.

Second, I had formed very strong opinions around my 3 wood (e.g. the worst club in my bag!) but when I had no choice but to try it in other circumstances, it gave great results. Any potential in my 3 wood went unrecognized and untapped, again for years, due to my own rigid judgment of the club and myself.

Finally, as we progressed through the inning without my driver mysteriously disappearing (but chatting frequently), I repeatedly said, “Maybe I can just hit my 3 wood off the tee for a while, I don’t need a new straight driver now.” My husband, however, retorted, “We need to get you a new driver because you can probably get a lot more distance.” And it was only later that I finally understood that even after my deep realizations around these two clubs, I was still avoiding the possibility of improving my game by offering myself a new driver.

I wonder, what would it be like to feel the satisfaction of even longer journeys? What would it be like to swing the newest driver on the market, designed to the latest specifications for female golfers? I’m definitely not the golfer who thinks I need to repeatedly improve my club(s), hoping it will change my game. But maybe I should become more like that golfer. Because I didn’t operate in a way that gave me every opportunity to maximize my golfing potential.

What if I approached my golf game looking for every opportunity to improve, grow and succeed, instead of saying to myself and everyone else over the past 15 years, “If I ever decided to take my game seriously, could I be so much better? “What if I approached my life more in this way? I know I’m not the only person who doesn’t prioritize my own success or my own accomplishments (or even the possibility of greater accomplishment). I know I’m not the only person who thinks I don’t need to change anything because I’m doing “great”. What if I could do more than “very good?” What would that mean for me? How can I celebrate and support myself in a way that maximizes all opportunities for success?

It’s not something I’m good at, but I’ll give it a try, starting right now. My husband is pushing me to go shopping for a new driver, like, tonight! My brain keeps insisting that I can use my 3 wood for a while because I hit it “really good”. My heart is telling me it’s time to take it to the next level because why wouldn’t I do everything I can to support myself as best I can, in golf and in life.

And my instinct, which has never misled me, tells me it’s time. Because it is.

— By Pritam Potts

Coach Pritam Potts is a writer and strength coach. After more than 16 years coaching athletes and clients of all ages as co-owner of Edmonds-based Advanced Athlete LLC, she now lives in Dallas, TX. She writes about health and fitness, grief and loss, love and life at www.advancedathlete.com.