What Golf Teaches Me About Life and Success
I first took up golf at the age of 22. Not because I thought it would be fun, but because I started a job in sales and my manager told me I needed to start playing. Wow…this really sucked; I was always into hard core athletics like martial arts, and golf seemed like an old man’s sport. Many years have passed since then. Not only have I continued to play golf, I love golf.
My friend, Rick, says that golf is a game of life. He’s right. So much about who we are and what we need to be successful in life can be described through the game of golf.
Find Your Unique Style
Golf is the ultimate individual sport. Like each of us, our golf swings are unique to our personalities, temperament and physical qualities. The basic golf swing has identical core components (backswing, impact, follow through), but how we best accomplish those components should fit to our unique qualities. Compare the swings of Chi Chi Rodriguez, Ray Floyd and Ben Hogan. Three totally distinct swings, but all were great golfers.
What does this mean to me? First, I don’t believe those ‘gurus’ who tell aspiring golfers that there is only one correct way to be a successful golfer. Great golfers evolve the core components of golf to fit their strengths. Go to any course you will see accomplished golfers of all shapes, sizes, ages and gender. Their swings are equally as distinct.
Such as in life, we cannot expect to achieve success by believing there is only one ‘swing’ to model ourselves after. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you cannot achieve success because of who you are or what your limitations are. Just the opposite – we can only be successful by knowing ourselves and patterning a swing which leverages our strengths.
I am an athletically built 5’3″ guy. Can you imagine me trying to swing like a lanky 6’3″ golfer? It would not be pretty. Likewise, in life, I have always been a non-conformist who does not like authoritarian behavior. Perhaps that is why never liked working in the corporate world….hmmm.
Focus – One Shot at a Time
Perhaps the best part of golf is that it does not play favorites. Every single golfer has experienced the joy of making a great shot, only to find their next shot sail into the woods or water. But it’s the great golfer who can forget the last shot and focus on the next shot. The best golfers can put aside a bad shot into the trees and come back to make par.
Likewise, in business we all go through ups and downs. Each time something does not go our way, do we quickly assess where we are and the best steps to still get us to our goal? Or do we just give up and walk away from the game? I think it’s so much more rewarding to bounce back from a bad situation and recover to meet our goals!
It’s You vs. You
Golf is a game where you compete against yourself. It’s about playing your best and making progress each time you head out to the course. Comparing your game against someone else’s is simply irrelevant. In the same vain, how many of us measure our lives or success against someone else’s? The bottom line is that you can only be the best YOU, not someone else. Stop worrying what other people are doing and focus on your game.
The Practice-Range Pro
Enjoy the Game
Recently I watched John Daly drop 5 or 6 balls into the lake (ala Tin Cup) at one tournament and then storm off the course because he ran out of balls. He didn’t look too happy. Is it any surprise that he isn’t finding much success in the game. His attitude is all wrong and he doesn’t look like he is enjoying the game. Even when I have a bad golf day I just love being out on the course and enjoying my surroundings.
In life, we all experience bad times. In our business, my partner and I have encountered absolutely frustrating issues and roadblocks. It would have been easy to get pissy and give up. However, once we stop to reflect, we remember just how much we love what we do. In fact, each time we hit one of these temporary roadblocks we seem to come back even stronger and with more zest.