Q&A with the Henleys: Life Is About Fulfilling a Good Purpose

Thanks for taking the time. Let’s dive right in. How do you find that fine balance between family and the career?

Russell Henley: With three kids, my wife, practice and traveling, it obviously takes up a ton of time. And so I try to just look in the different spots of a week where I can have three hours to do something else. Sometimes that doesn't happen.

I think having kids has made me more intentional with my time. And it's made me a little bit more focused with time and I tend to not waste as much of it. When I'm having to plan things out as opposed to before having kids and when I first turned pro, it happened where I had the whole day to myself [laughing], so things have changed a lot. But to break it down, when I write out my plan for a week — when I see the hours I'm going to be at the course — I know that those hours are the seconds and minutes that I get to spend there.

I try to flip the switch to this game mode. I'm going 100% on all my drills or I'm going 100% on whatever my game plan is that day, or if it's at a tournament. I remember reading this book and [the author] was talking about how he always took 15 minutes to himself to just kind of decompress from the day and then kind of say a prayer before he walked in the door. I was able to transition that into family life. It takes a lot out of me to play great golf. I have to be extremely focused and serious. And sometimes that needed edge to play takes a little while to transition back to being relaxed and having fun with the family.

Same question, Teil. How do you find balance? It’s understood that your children are the main focal point for you and Russell, so, additionally, how do you think it affects their senses when they see mom has a wealth of creativity or dad does what he does?

Teil Henley Duncan: Being a mother occupies a lot of time obviously. I try to maximize my painting time as efficiently as I can. With the kids, this is what the season of life looks like, and I realize it won’t be like this forever. It’s just learning how to use time the right way to be creative.

I really hope that my children see us and it moves them in one direction or another. I don't want them to come in [the art studio] or walk on a golf course and think, ‘Oh, I have to accomplish something big because of mom and dad.’ As a mother, I want them to see that anything's possible. It would be great for them to figure out what they're interested in and just put time and energy into it.

Family, of course, extends beyond wife and children. You and Teil have moved into the role of caregivers for your parents. What has that been like?

Russell Henley: It’s been a change the last couple of years. Taking care of our three kids is a full-time gig [laughing], and I love it. Also taking care of mom and dad is a privilege. It’s hard to watch your parents decline. But it’s also a privilege to take care of them the best that you can. Life gets harder as you get older; it gets sweeter in a lot of ways, too. I think having a family is one of the sweeter blessings. With my parents, I try to bring the excitement to my mom and dad and just lighten the mood when I see them.

They have had a huge influence on me. With the Macon Volunteer Clinic (Macon, Georgia), my dad started that in 2001 or 2002. They will give free health care, medical care and dental care to those with proof of a job application.

It makes me feel good just to be a small, small helping hand. My dad has always been about trying to help people, and he was a doctor. Once he retired, he started the volunteer clinic and would do Habitat for Humanity. That inspired me to help other people. Also, I think watching Teil’s parents, just the way they live their life — they're outwardly focused — that has also inspired me.

Switching gears, how would you describe your profession as an artist, entrepreneur and author?

Teil Duncan Henley: I mean, it is challenging work. But it's just so fun. I even feel bad saying that, because I understand most peoples' jobs are not fun. But it is hard. And then when I see someone [promote] my art, it makes it more fun and rewarding. It feels like putting a bow on a present. It's rewarding to make something that I'm proud of. It’s also exciting to put something out there, and then to have it received with positive feedback just makes the whole experience complete.

Does Russell ever come in and offer advice or try to help you?

Teil Duncan Henley [laughing]: Absolutely. He loves to come in here and hang out on a little day bed and just relax during his down time. I like to ask him his opinion, because you don't have to be an artist to give a good opinion about what's good or what's not good. I want somebody to come and tell me if they like it or not right off the bat, whether they know anything about art or not. That's important.

And he likes anything realistic, like hyper-realistic. That impresses him. He also loves time lapse videos of watching something evolve quickly. So, again, it's important to me because it's the same with music — you don't have to be a music expert to enjoy a good song.

Is there a facet of your art he loves?

Teil Duncan Henley: He loves when I paint animals [laughing]. Animals are his favorite.

I will say this: Something funny that Russell does is whenever he comes in [the studio] and I have a visitor looking at [all the art], he takes credit, too. He’ll say, ‘This is a collaboration that we organized and really worked hard on together.’ Clearly, it's a joke, but he loves to do that [laughing].

Do you think you could train Russell to paint? More from a verbal position that might tie in well with how you see something in your head and being able to translate that vision to him?

Teil Duncan Henley: Yes, there have been times where if we're sitting on an airplane or something, he'll say, ‘Hold right there.’ And he'll draw my profile. It's just a great source of laughter [laughing]. It really is. It's about as bad as I would be if I swung the golf club. But I think he could handle basic concepts; we were just talking about primary colors. We learned that today, in fact. But I think we could start with some basic concepts. That would be fun.

Russell Henley: I don’t know. I'm not saying no, or I don't want to. I don't want to put false hope out there. [both laughing].

How about teaching Teil how to golf? How would that go?

Russell Henley: There has been a few times where I've tried to help her. And, usually, she doesn't like too much of my help [smiling at Teil]. She likes to do it on her own. But I think it's fun to try to help her.

You’re both pretty driven and goal oriented. We’ll end it here for now with Teil’s answer and save your response, Russell, for next time. So, Teil, what does success look like to you?

Teil Duncan Henley: I would define success as this: if your life is fulfilling a good purpose and can be defined by bringing joy to others – and helping others – then success is characterized by using your gifts for the benefit of others. That’s pretty good in my book.

Be sure to check out more content from the inspiring couple, both of whom continue sharing stories from the golf course, the art studio and at home in Columbus, Georgia, where they live with their three children.