Living-proof why we should never give up

Have you ever wanted to quit, just give up, throw in the towel? Maybe you were treated unfairly and didn’t get the promotion you thought you had earned. Perhaps you thought you deserved to make partner, but they passed over you and awarded that coveted title to a less deserving colleague. Maybe you’re a bit younger: you got cut from the varsity football team or didn’t get admitted to the college that you worked so hard to get into, despite all of those AP courses and stellar ACT and SAT scores.

Or take the case of businessman John Ram, a rising star at a large consulting firm.

He worked weeks preparing for his meeting with the board of a growing tech company. If he could land this deal – which he was confident he could – nothing stood in the way of being promoted to Vice President. 

Things turned dramatically south when he arrived at the airport to catch his flight to New York City.  For some reason TSA was conducting rapid Covid tests on all travelers who couldn’t prove that they had been vaccinated.  John was so busy with work that he didn’t have the time to get vaccinated. Needless-to-say he was shocked when the test came back positive, and he had to miss his flight – and his big meeting.  He called the NY firm to see if they were willing to reschedule the meeting or possibly conduct it via zoom. They weren’t! Sadly for John, this was a big fish that he failed to land. John was left with two options: stay positive and make the best out of a big disappointment or get emotional and play the victim.

To be perfectly honest with you, this was just a made-up story. The real story I wanted to share with you was about a different John. His name is Jon Rahm and he’s a  26-year-old professional golfer from Spain. If you are a golfer, you’ll know the roller coaster ride he has been on these past few weeks. 

Jon’s wife Kelley gave birth to their first child a week before the Masters in April and though a bit sleep deprived, Jon still managed to tie for fifth place. In June Jon was playing so well that he finished his third round at the Memorial Tournament in Ohio with a 6-stroke lead. If he continued to play well during the final round on Sunday, he would cash in on the $1.7 million pay-day.

Around 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 5th, while Jon was in the middle of his third round, a Covid test he had taken a day earlier came back positive. This, despite the fact the Rahm had received the Johnson & Johnson vaccination (a one dose regimen) a few days earlier. As he walked off the 18th green the PGA Tour’s medical adviser shared with him – on live television – the heartbreaking news.  Not only would he have to withdraw from the tournament, lose out on a big paycheck and trophy but he would have to go into quarantine and would miss reuniting with his parents whom he hadn’t seen in over a year due to Covid.  They were coming from Spain to watch him win the tournament and to meet their new grandson.

Rahm was flown back to Arizona where, in quarantine, he would watch the final round of the golf tournament he was sure of winning. When he stepped off the green on Saturday, he was 18 under par and 6 strokes ahead of the closest competitor. The eventual winner, Patrick Cantlay won the tournament with a score of 13 under par.

Rahm received his first covid test on June 10th, a Friday, and it came back negative. The procedure was repeated the next day and the results were again negative. This meant that he was cleared to play in the next major golf tournament, the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in San Diego the following Thursday.

Rahm could have been bitter that a virus, which didn’t affect his level of play in the least, knocked him out of a huge Sunday afternoon win. Rather, he kept a positive attitude and looked to the future:

“I believed from the biggest setbacks we can get some of the biggest breakthroughs.”

And this story does have a happy – no, a storybook finish!  Not only did Rahm make the cut at Torrey Pines – a course on which he won his first PGA tour win in 2017 – but on Sunday he birdied the last two holes to win this major event by one stroke over South African Louis Oosthuizen.  What made the win even more special was that his wife, son and parents were all there to share the victory with him.

We all experience setbacks, some are major, some are minor. It’s a given. The question is how will we deal with them? Will we be overcome with emotions, self-pity and throw in the towel? Or will we battle through the adversity with a positive attitude?