We do food on Friday here on the screed and I’m starting to think we ought to do golf on Mondays since now that it’s golf season I seem to find golf themes to start the week. I’m not sure if any of you watched The Players over the weekend but it contained a fascinating study in psychology. We talk a lot in golf about it being a mental game. Bob Jones, a golfing icon, summed it up perfectly:
Competitive golf is played mainly on a five-and-a-half-inch course…the space between your ears.
There was no better example of this than Kevin Na during The Players. It’s a great business lesson too. For the uninitiated, The Players is often referred to as the fifth major. Whether it is or not, it’s a big deal in the golf world and it draws a top field. Kevin Na is a young (28) golfer who turned pro out of high school and won for the first time not long ago. He was probably best known for carding a 16 on a hole last year (which he did with great grace and a smile, by the way). What is unusual about him is that he struggles to start his golf swing. There’s no way to describe it so I’ll show you:
It’s painful, and what’s even weirder is that once he did manage to swing he was playing well enough to be leading the tournament into the final round. It’s a great example of how often our worst enemies lie within us, both on the golf course and in the office. How many of us spend time negotiating against ourselves rather than the other party in a deal and deliver worse deal terms than we might otherwise have got? How many of us operate without a plan or without regard to data that might prove useful? How many of us let our fears of failure undermine our abilities to function, despite the fact that there is plenty of evidence (like Na’s scorecard) that says we’re doing well?
Part of our ability as businesspeople is our mental capacity, which includes the ability to shut off our brains when we need to and just let our other skills take over. To a certain extent, we need to get outside of our heads in order to let our brains function. I’ve had the experience of feeling as if I’m watching myself give a presentation to a few hundred people, one for which I’ve prepared diligently. My head got out of my brain’s way. Hopefully Na, who seems like a good guy, can use this experience to do the same. How about you?