When I first started working with Ron and Liz Jaworski and their team at Ron Jaworski Golf a few years ago, I decided that it was time to get serious again about golf. I had been a decent player in the past – when I was young, single and childless in my twenties – but I hadn’t dedicated any real time to the practice of golf for several decades.
Required: Practice, Discipline, Time and…
For me, good golf takes practice. And time on the range. And a certain discipline. I’ve never been a natural athlete and that means I have to work at my form. Golf is also a challenging game to fit into family time, especially if your kids aren’t inclined to play. So, although my husband and I played for a few years when we first got married, after having my boys, I basically gave the game up. I wasn’t willing to make the time.
I’m the other type of golf wife by the way. My husband didn’t play golf when we first met. I was the one that got him into the game. Of course, he loved it. I also realized as the kids got older that if I didn’t get back into it, our “us time” was going to be significantly impacted. And I did enjoy the game – when I played well.
Wanted: A Great Coach
To do that, however, I needed a great coach. After trying a few that weren’t that great I went to BJ Jaworski, Liz’s son and the VP of RJG and asked him who he would recommend as a teacher.
“Bruce,” he said without even thinking. “Bruce is one of the best pros that I know and he will definitely help you.”
The Founder and Director of the New Jersey Academy of Golf, Bruce Chelucci also teaches at Blue Heron Golf Course, one of RJG’s six courses. It’s a beautiful course, but unfortunately a 45-minute drive from my house. I trusted BJ though, signed up and had an amazing first lesson with Bruce. He’s a fabulous teacher, an extremely good athlete himself but more importantly does what all great educators and coaches do. Keeps it simple and helps you enjoy the process of learning.
Thus began my re-entry into the wonderful and extremely frustrating game of golf. Every Sunday afternoon my girlfriend, Chris, who came with me, and I would drive to “Mecca” which is what we called Blue Heron. We both improved so much in the first season that our husbands decided that they were missing out and signed up for lessons with Bruce as well. Not surprisingly, their golf games are dramatically better too.
But along with the improvement in my golf game came one of the most important parts of the experience. The lessons that Bruce has imparted along the way. Lessons that are just as applicable to business and the work that we do with entrepreneurial leaders as they are to the game of golf.
Result: Lessons for Business
1. It’s not the aesthetics of the shot, it’s the result.
The objective of golf is to get the ball in the hole. Too often, however, I find myself getting enamored with having a beautiful straight, arching shot, and getting frustrated when it’s not. Frustration, by the way, is never a good thing on the golf course as Bruce will remind me. I lose sight of the fact that even when I mis-hit, if I’m moving the ball towards the hole, I’m making progress. It’s the same with business. We may not be executing against our strategy perfectly or having a perfect crucial conversation with an employee or a customer, but we do execute and we do have the talk. And with the right positive intentions, each action makes a difference to the business and our results.
2. Focus on progress, not perfection.
In golf, to get to the hole means moving the ball down the fairway. But sometimes you get caught in the weeds. Or in a bunker. As Bruce reminded me the other day, sometimes a punch shot is your best weapon. To get out of a rough spot, off a bad lie, out of the woods and back on the fairway. With business, it’s the same way. Sometimes you just have to plow thru a particularly bad situation and get back on course and to a place where you can take a full swing again. Don’t over -analyze. Just take the shot.
3. Give yourself a margin of error.
Golf is not about perfection. Neither is business. One of the most constant “lessons” that Bruce taught me is to enjoy the game, be forgiving of yourself and kind. We’re humans “being” and that comes with a lot of baggage and mistakes. No one gets it right 100% of the time. Take that fact into account when dealing with people and your business. You’ll be less stressed, more centered and ultimately more successful.
4. Be thoughtful about your approach.
In golf it’s about examining the terrain, seeing what hazards are around and in front of you, planning your shot (with your Coach / Caddy) and then taking it. Business is the same way. Take the time to scope out the environment, talk to your team, decide the path forward and then just play.
5. Attitude affects performance.
This is one of the hardest lessons that I continue to have to learn. About golf and business. Negative emotions have a horrible affect on one’s golf game (as my husband can attest when he sees me lose it on the course) and one’s business performance. Negativity leads to more negativity which leads to poor performance. And it sucks to spend 2 or 3 hours on something if you’re not enjoying it, which is about the time it takes to play nine holes. Be aware of when you’re not in control of your emotions, take a deep breath – or several – and shake it off. Easier said than done but we’re all a work in progress.
6. Stay loose. Practice, practice, practice.
Then, trust that the repetition, and muscle memory, will take over when the ball is in front of the club. The same discipline and practice is required in business. With each sales meeting, or team meeting, or Town Hall or one-to-one you’re given another opportunity to get a little bit better. Take the time to prepare ahead of time. Write things down so that you remember them (I was always writing down my one or two takeaways from my lessons with Bruce to apply that week at the range), and then stay loose and trust that the preparation pays off.
7. Remember to keep it simple.
Golf, according to Bruce, all comes down to three things. Hitting the ground (or the tee if you’re driving), managing the club face and directing the swing path. That’s it. The basics. And of course all of the many permutations of those three things. But it does help me to know that there are really only three variables to work on controlling. In the Scaling Up world of business, it’s the same – but for us there are 4 Decisions. The Talent on your team, the Strategy that you’re using to drive growth and profitability, the Cash you have to fuel growth and innovation and, of course, how well you Execute against the Plan. Those four priorities will help Enlightened Leaders to prioritize, focus and win!
And if you’d like to learn more business “lessons” and best practices to Scale Up your business, join us on October 3rd!
Come hear Jeff Hoffman, global Entrepreneur from Priceline and uBid, at our Fall Workshop “Keys to Explosive Growth.” And many thanks to WSFS Bank for being our Gold Sponsor!
Tags: Business advice for the mid-market, Enlightened Leaders, golf lessons, Overcoming small business challenges, Small business advice, Strategic planning for small business