Yesterday was the final round of my golf club’s championship. I made it all the way to the final match during which I was beaten like a rented mule. I did announce that it was my birthday before we teed off but my opponent’s good wishes ended as soon as we hit the first shots. I suppose it would be pretty understandable if I was upset, but I’m not. I’ve never made it this far in the competition and the loss wasn’t so much about my playing badly as it was about his playing well. Which is, of course, a business point.
These are a few of the things I learned both prior to and during the butt-kicking:
- You can have butterflies as long as you can get them to fly in formation. It’s amazing how much raw energy one can get from being nervous. You might get it speaking publicly; I got it on the first tee. My thing was to focus on it and then to dismiss it. Noting what’s going on isn’t the same as getting caught up in it.
- Breaking large tasks down into small pieces really does work. Thinking about having to win a lot of holes of golf to get to the final was kind of daunting. Making one good swing to get to the next shot was relatively easy. Getting revenues to double by the end of the fiscal year is hard; closing one more deal this week seems do-able.
- Getting beaten isn’t the same as losing. Avis made a pretty good business being number 2. Very few categories only can support a single player.
- Finally, I learned not to compound my mistakes. It’s hard to hit out of deep rough 200 yards to the green and it’s a much better idea to take one’s medicine, pitch out, and try to knock it close from back in the fairway. We often make mistakes in business but if we don’t compound them we might just make a surprise par and win the hole.
I realize playing for a club championship isn’t the PGA Tour but it was fun to get a taste of high-level competition. Like business, it’s far more taxing mentally than it is physically, an ultimately the ability to focus mentally helps overcome the physical challenges. Fore!