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A story of integrity – don’t you wish we lived like this?

20 November 2012

I have just become the Business Development Manager for Denis Coen: Peak Performance Mind Coach (deniscoen.com) and I recently started one our meetings reading the following story…a story of brilliant integrity.

Why did I start the meeting with this story? Well partly because we both love sport. But also because business is built on trust. If you can’t trust the people you are working with 100% then you are on slippery ground. Do we tell the truth? Do we exaggerate to make ourselves sound better than we are? Do we slip in ‘white lies’? I read the following article and felt (a) convicted/inspired to act accordingly and (b) a yearning to create a world where people prized truth-telling and integrity as much as this.

When I worked for Christians in Sport we always used to talk about “playing for the audience of one” – that is, playing to please God above all else. Well this guy shows us how to do it.

The Background: Blayne Barber didn’t know if he moved the leaf. But his brother Shayne, who serves as Blayne’s caddy, was certain. “I was standing right there,” Shayne says. “It didn’t move.”

Rule 13-4c is professional golf’s peculiar policy that prohibits a player from touching any loose impediment in a hazard—even a single leaf—as part of the maneuver to dislodge the ball.

“Unlike a criminal conviction that requires something beyond reasonable doubt, golf’s rules only allow for two options – certainty and illegality,” says Golf Channel columnist Jason Sobel. “Which is to say, if a golfer isn’t sure whether he broke a rule, then he’s presumed guilty of breaking that rule.”

As Sobel notes, “There are no gray areas in golf’s draconian rules. Either [Barber] missed the leaf and signed for a score higher than he really had or he brushed the leaf and signed for an incorrect score, which would result in disqualification.”

After conferring with two rule officials, Barber decided not to mark a penalty on his scorecard. But three days later the incident still bothered him: Did he move the leaf or not?

Although the young golfer is getting married in December and needed the money and job security of the PGA Tour, his conscience kept bothering him.

“This is something I prayed a lot about,” he says. “I continued to not find peace about it.”

[. . . ]

“It just goes so much deeper than golf and my PGA Tour card and my career,” he explains. “I didn’t want there to be this little chasm in between me and God or me and this thing that I always thought would be on my conscience and weigh on me. I knew that ultimately when that is weighing on me, I had to just come forward and do what was in my heart. That’s way more important than short-term success.”
Exactly one week after he may or may not have touched the leaf, Barber made his decision. He called the PGA Tour on November 2 to report that he had signed an incorrect scorecard. Although he had advanced in the tournament, his failure to penalize himself that additional stroke resulted in his signing a lower scorecard, which results in disqualification.

Why It Matters: The twenty-two year old was one of the world’s top amateurs when he turned pro earlier this year. His decision means he’ll potentionally miss out on competing for millions of dollars. But Barber knows there are some things more important than money.

“I don’t know why all this is happening,” Blayne admits. “I don’t know what it will entail in the future, but maybe it will have an effect on someone, maybe someone will learn from it. It’s a lot bigger than me. I just wanted to do my part to make it right and clear my conscience.”

“I just feel peace about it,” Barber adds. “Doing the right thing and doing what I know is right in my heart and in my conscience is more important than short-term success.”

What do you think? Feel convicted? Inspired? Don’t you wish we lived in a world where people (including myself) always acted like this? The bible says such a world is coming (The New Creation described in Revelations 21-22) and our role is to start to play it out before others in our everyday lives that they might long for such a world too.

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