Questions That Win

Smitty Johnson plays golf with his young son. And he is serious about teaching his son how to play the game well. Johnny Smith also plays golf with his young son, and he is equally serious about teaching his son to play well.

As you might imagine, they each have a different style in teaching. Mr. Johnson is a hindsight teacher. As he plays a round of golf with his son, he watches silently, sees the results, and then asks questions: What club did you use on that shot? Where were you trying to hit the ball? How far away from the green did you think you were? Did it turn out like you wanted? Then he encourages his son, “Hey, you’ll do better next time.”

Mr. Smith approaches his son a little differently. He is a foresight teacher. As they play golf, they will approach each shot together. Mr. Smith asks questions before the shot: What kind of lie does the ball have? How far are you from the hole? Where would you like to place the ball? Which club will be the best for this shot? Ok, give it a try. After the shot, he encourages his son, “Good shot!” or “That’s okay, you had the right idea; you’ll do better next time.”

There doesn’t seem to be a lot of difference in their approaches. Each of these dads is doing a good job, but Mr. Johnson would do well to learn from Mr. Smith this particular key:

Preparation is better than critique.

Mr. Smith is letting his son benefit from his experience on each shot. Asking the foresight questions is teaching his son to think ahead, to look down the road, to make decisions on his own.

I trust that you understand that this is not just about golf. It’s about life. If we approach the events of our children’s lives with some foresight, we can prepare them for success or for disappointment. Our experiences can be a deep well of wisdom for them. We can be training them to make decisions on their own.

Both of these golfer dads asked questions; kudos to them. Asking questions teaches our children to think through the episodes of their young lives. Asking a question encourages them to think about things, to develop their own discernment and observation skills. Telling them everything hinders their ability to develop their own powers of discernment. By asking questions, we equip them to become their own interpreters of life, to think for themselves.

Asking questions ahead of time teaches them to see through mature eyes. Asking questions afterwards may mean that emotional reactions to their own bad decisions can interfere with the learning process. If there is no mistake to overcome, the learning can be more effective. Just before a decision, there is a desire to do well, and this motivates them to hear and to try their best.

By the way, one of the sons mentioned above has become quite a golfer. Check out this link and scroll down to the “Jimmy Green Results.” His first name is Cy and he is ten years old: Click here.