I have always hated the “golf clap”.
You know, the one where you gently tap the palm of one hand with the fingers of another…so named because apparently some dude made up a rule that says it is not polite or “cultured” to clap loudly on a country club golf course, even when one is applauding a great shot.
But of course we don’t just see the “golf clap” on golf course…generally in any situation where people feel obligated to clap, following a performance, a speech, a whatever, they resort to the “golf clap”, the half hearted, sorry excuse for an applause.
Last week I had the opportunity to speak at a graduation ceremony for a training program that helps new immigrants advance their English and equip them for the Canadian job market. Following the speeches the diplomas were handed out. They made that one announcement that they ALWAYS make at these occasions, one that NO ONE ever listens to: ”Please hold your applause till the very end.”
Of course you know what always happen in these occasions: the graduates with the big “fan clubs” get crazy loud cheers, while those who didn’t have very many friends/family in the stands get the obligatory “golf clap”.
I don’t know what came over me at the ceremony, but as I sat and watched the graduates walked up to receive their diplomas one by one, I began to loudly cheer and clap for everyone of them, because they deserve it.
Many of them left behind the comforts of the place they have spent their whole lives in, threw their families on their backs, crossed oceans to come to pursuit a better life and bigger dreams for their children. They gave up good jobs. They had to learn a brand new language. They got by taking on survival jobs so life can be better for their kids. I have the privilege of encountering stories like theirs in my work. Every time I hear their stories, they inspire me to become a better human being. Every time.
As I applauded them and watched the smiles on their faces, it occurred to me that for many of them, may be it has been a long time since anyone had cheered for them. For some, perhaps they have never heard that sound before, someone cheering for them, calling their names.
I left the ceremony with a strained voice and stinging palms. But I was also reminded how good it feels to pour your heart out to celebrate the achievement of others.
Next time you have an opportunity to applaud someone, leave the golf clap on the golf course. Put your hands together. Jump. Shout. Go nuts for them. Because you never know how long it’s been since they have had someone cheer for them, or how long it will be before they hear it again.