The most powerful lesson I learned from 6 years of caddying (plus the winner)

When I was in 8th grade, I persuaded the starter at a country club near where I lived to let me caddy. I caddied for 6 summers and I learned so much about human behavior and psychology it was incredible. I learned how to deal with ALL sorts of people.

For a job that was usually reserved for professional caddies or for kids whose parents were members – it was a tough place to be. But I worked my tail off to prove I was a hardworking kid.

Every summer morning, my mom would drive me to the course at 5:30 AM, 6 days a week. I took what I could get at first. Either I’d carry golf bags or fore-caddy. (Fore-caddying was by far less taxing because you’re not carrying bags.)

No matter what, I’d always caddy for 2 rounds – even if I carried bags – which is what I usually wound up getting. Most caddies did their one round in the morning and then would go home. But I knew if I wanted to make an impression, I couldn’t say no when I was offered a loop ( = 18 holes) as it’s called. I usually wouldn’t be done until 4 or 5 pm, and sometimes I did 45 holes. That’s 2 full rounds and a 9-hole round (2.5 loops). My record was 54 holes. (3 loops.)

Although this sounds ENTIRELY self-congratulatory, I only say it to give some background.

I learned many valuable lessons but I’ll keep this only to the lesson that relates to our health and fitness, although everything relates to our health and fitness.

Here it is: Doing the right thing always feels the best. (“Thanks, Adam. Um, I knew that!”) (I know you do but stories are a powerful way to create change.)

Having caddied for such a wide range of people from professional athletes to CEO’s to wives of pro athletes to people who normally wouldn’t belong to a country club when there were outings (typically a company would rent out the course for the day as a thank you to their employees) I saw lots of interesting things and met lots of different types of people.

First off, being wealthy has nothing to do with money, in my opinion. And many times the people with the most money were the worst tippers and the best tippers were those you’d least expect.

You could tell, though, how miserable some of these people really were. They were taking their misery out on me. After a while, I realized this, and I didn’t take it personally. (It’s like trying to help someone who doesn’t want to be helped. It CAN’T be done.)

I’ve said it before: you can tell a lot about a person by how they tip. Thankfully, besides the outliers in our society, for the most part, we all know what the right thing to do is.

And I saw it on countless faces as I was being handed a tip throughout the years. When it was a terrible tip – there was a slight discomfort in the persons face. They knew it.

When it was a great tip there was a totally different expression. It’s as if they felt proud. And they were excited to give it to me. You know why? Doing good, feels good.

But we all know this.

Unfortunately, we DON’T have ignorance on our side. I’ve said many times that ignorance is bliss. We know how great eating right and exercising can and will make us feel. We know how important our health and fitness is. We know that a huge part of our wealth is how healthy and fit we are!

Once we know something, it’s extremely hard to ignore it. And it was only those who knew they should tip, and didn’t, or those who knowingly tipped very poorly – that you saw the pain in their face.

I was reminded of this just before as I accepted a delivery. I could’ve easily not tipped these guys – after all, I’ll never see them again in my life…

And as uncomfortable or whatever you might want to call reaching into your wallet to give a generous tip is – it always feels awesome once you do it.

The best part? I left 15 minutes later and the guys were all outside their truck. They were all thrilled and said thank you many times over.

It felt great. And it’s nice to get that feedback (“Oh, you look so great!” “You’ve lost so much weight!” as people start noticing you.)

But it feels even better for ourselves. It changes US. In fact, because I value how I feel, it’s not uncomfortable for me to reach into my wallet and give a generous tip. It’s worth it to me. It makes ME feel good.

(For some people, and I know this from seeing it many times over – the thought of reaching into their wallet makes them very unhappy.)

In fact, because I value how I feel, I *try* to embrace the discomfort when I have a strong craving or urge. Because it makes me feel good to stick to my long term goals.

Our mantra for today: When we do what we know is right, we’ll feel far happier than the alternative.

P.S. After that first summer, and every summer after that until I was able to drive, I insisted on taking my mom out to dinner as a way to thank her for driving me so early every morning. That felt good too.

P.P.S. So who won the special prize? On Tuesday, I asked the question: You throw away the outside and cook the inside. Then you eat the outside and throw away the inside. What did you eat? The answer: I got all sorts of interesting answers from eggs to garbage to fish. But the answer I was looking for is corn.

As Tracy L. from Chicago, Illinois already knows, she’s the winner of a $50 gift card to iTunes! Thanks to all those who tried.

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