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By Anne Marie Goslak

I failed. Those are some hard words to type, you know. Failure is not well publicized. We tend to focus on "the winners", the happy ending, the home run in the last inning to win the championship. Nope, failure is the embarrassing uncle we try to hide from our friends, for fear they will judge us by his crude behavior.

In my quest to achieve my PGA Class A status, I am required to take several tests. After breezing through the intro test, I was optimistic that the next level of exams would end well too.

They did not. I did exceptionally well in the sections on teaching, physics and anatomy. I did OK with business planning and basic accounting. But, of all things, when I got to the section on Golf Car Fleet Management, I drew a blank.

I sat there, in the exam room, just staring at the computer screen. Failure to Advance 69%. My face was flush and my heart was pounding. What on earth happened?

After the shock wore off, and the embarrassment faded, I thought about my dad. The "Dad Lectures" he gave me as a child were legendary.

In dramatic fashion, he would say, "Honey, there are going to be many times in your life when things don't work out like you wanted. When you hit a road block, you can sit and cry in your corn flakes, or you do four things to help yourself." I can still see his out stretched fingers, as he counted off the steps to success.

  1. Analyze "What went wrong?"
  2. Determine "What could be done differently next time?"
  3. Ask yourself: "What do I need to know in order to do better next time?" and "Who has the skills to help me?"
  4. Stop whining and get to work.

The answer to "What went wrong?" was an easy one. I simply could not figure out what was important to the PGA. I spent my time studying facts and figures. Meanwhile, they would ask what I considered to be a vague question such as, "What is the most important thing to consider when selecting a golf car vendor?" Was it pricing, leasing options, location from the course, or customer service? Apparently, their answer differed from mine.

Who could help me better understand the PGA? Fortunately, I knew one of the national PGA trainers. I got up enough nerve to call her and ask for help. She gave me some good, "insider advice" on how to better assess the material. I now had a clearer view of what I needed to do, and a game plan on how to study more efficiently.

When I took the test again, I passed with flying colors. As I walked out of the testing center, I thought, "I am glad I failed last time." Had I passed, I never would have had the need to call the national trainer. I never would have learned how to adjust my study habits to align with the PGA. Thanks to the newly acquired skills, I had a better chance of passing future exams.

Failure is sometimes the stepping stone to success. Without it, we might be tempted to live in the lukewarm waters of mediocrity. The next time you fail, know that it just might be the best thing that ever happened to you. Go over the "Four Dad Steps to Success." And most importantly, "Stop whining and get to work!".

-Anne Marie Goslak