leadership, sports

Golf lessons are hard

Guess we will stick to the golf theme.  Don’t worry, for those who think golf is boring I think it’s to say this will be the last golf post for a bit.

But I’ve been taking golf lessons (three lessons into a planned six) and I’ve noticed they are demanding.  Lucky for me, I am only taking them to ensure I can enjoy the game with my friends, there is nothing else “riding” on it.  But I think there are some lessons here to apply to other things.

It’s hard to actually FOCUS on doing something right.

Around my peeps at work, we often say “we want to be INTENTIONAL about it.”  In other words, we don’t want to be randomly good or bad at some things; we don’t want some things to be left to chance.  As leaders, we might want to be INTENTIONAL about asking for feedback on key leadership areas we are working on, and working to adapt our behaviors accordingly.  At home, we might want to be INTENTIONAL about expressing our appreciation for our spouse or children on a regular basis.  In golf, I am trying to be INTENTIONAL about keeping my head down and my club coming from the inside.

In any of these cases, we might find success without the effort, but it’s often not sustaining.  I might have luckily hired a bunch of folks who are willing to forgive my leadership shortcomings because they are of a similar personality, but what happens when I take on a new role with a new team?  At home, our spouse or children might just figure they are stuck with us, but wouldn’t life be better if the entire house was enjoying it?  And in golf, I can sometimes hit a smokin’ long drive, but if all the other shots hit houses, what’s the point?

So it’s a lot of effort to WORK (practice?) at things, but the benefits are usually worth it. Also notice how in all the cases above, if we put in the work in an area, it has the potential to become a HABIT which means we won’t have to think about it so much going forward.

Repetition is boring, but it’s the key to success.

I play golf with someone once in a while who is like a machine.  Doesn’t hit it long, but in the last round we played he literally hit it in every fairway.  I like to say I get more of my money’s worth by visiting all of the course, not just the fairway.

But in “real life” boring often wins the prize.  Consistency is a fantastic thing, when we are talking about how we behave as leaders for example.  Or when we are talking about meeting our commitments to those in the organization we serve.  I know its hard to trust that when folks around you are getting raises or promotions by being “flashy” but in the long run, the consistent, “boring” hard worker who puts out their best efforts will be on top.

It’s all about how you finish.

There are thousands of ways to hit a golf ball, variations on swing types, swing planes, ball positions, swing speeds, etc.  But at some point, the club has to make solid contact with the ball with a square club face, and that is usually indicated by a balanced solid finish.

So don’t worry about how you get your job done, or how you lead your team, or how you express your appreciation to those you care for.  Your quirks are yours, and you should have the courage to be yourself.  I know I won’t ever have the prettiest golf swing, but if I can focus enough, build some consistency, and finish solid, hopefully my new swing will be good enough to “hang with the boys.”

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