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Lessons from business also apply to good golf


In years past, I’ve written columns where I presented strategies about how you can apply the lessons you learn from playing golf to enhance success in leadership and business. Today we’ll be looking at how we can utilize some of the behaviors, attitudes and thinking which have made you successful in business to improve your golf game.
Through the years, when I have coached CEO’s, managers and professionals (as their personal executive coach) to help them perform better on the job, the first place I start is finding out what the client wants to happen. This prevents the individual getting stuck in complaints about wanting other people to change.
These complaints sound like this: “Well, I work for a jerk, and he just needs to respect my work and my effort more and get off my back.” In the office, as in the marriage union, you can’t really change the other person. You have to work with what is there.
Nor can you change the golf course. It’s interesting that two of the original rules of golf, settled on hundreds of years ago by the Scots, were: Play the course as you find it; and play the ball as it lies.
Now, that’s a challenging business premise, isn’t it? Since you can’t change your boss (or your coworkers), you must change yourself for things to improve. This is what coaching helps you do. You ask yourself “how do I get better?” Don’t look at the golf course. Don’t count on your opponents to collapse during a match. Don’t think a new driver is the answer. Don’t complain about bad luck.
The answer is to improve yourself. Get coaching. Take lessons, Read the literature. Practice regularly. Raise the bar on your own performance. Isn’t that how you’ve made it so far in business?
Bill has been one of my clients, and a serious golfer. One day I asked Bill, a senior executive in investment banking, about how his skill and behavior at work have helped him play better golf. Without hesitating Bill replied, “What comes to mind first is that to do well in this arena (investments) you have to work hard with a lot of effort, and do a lot of careful planning, sizing up the probabilities in your decisions, before making a move.”
Bill’s golf game does reflect some of that idea because he takes most factors into account before deciding on any given golf shot. Paying close attention quickly to many, many details pays off in both business and golf. Listening to Bill also reminded me that our work in just about any field – sales, teaching, medicine, building, you name it – demands that we clearly see and process both the big picture and the finer picture in what we do.
Golfers competing in the U.S. Open know that they can’t win the tournament with one spectacular shot, but they can certainly lose it with one very bad play and a big number caused by failing to pay attention to details.
When experts on achievement and success are asked to assess personal traits and define the qualities of highly successful persons, regardless of what fields they are in, the experts all agree on one thing – attitude. So much in sport and life depends on having the right frame of mind. Attitude is everything.
It was Henry Ford who said, “Whether you believe you can do it or you can’t do it, either way you’re right.” It’s not very likely you will advance very far in your profession or play winning golf with a negative attitude. However, you can train yourself, with the help of a good coach, to adopt a consistently positive mental attitude.
Doubt and fear, anger and frustration, worry and tension are all negative thoughts, feelings and attitudes; they are counter-productive to the kind of performance you would like to experience. Solid belief in your potential, trust in your choices and confidence in the heat of battle are part of a mentality that promotes improvement, mastery and success. In work and in golf.
Dr. Charlie Blanchard is a licensed psychologist specializing in sports and leadership. Contact Blanchard at docblanchard71@gmail.com.