Another weekend, another round (or 2 or 3) of golf, another lesson learned for both on and off the course. This one actually didn’t penetrate into my somewhat thick skull until I was writing a note late yesterday. I know I seem to learn an awful lot in the kitchen or on the golf course,but since that’s pretty much where I spend my non-working hours, I guess one gathers inspiration and knowledge from what’s around.
Anyway – I played a fairly good round yesterday and left the golf course not feeling particularly good about my game. And that’s the business lesson. Make sense?
Here’s what I mean. I shot in the high 80’s yesterday. For you non-golf folks, that’s a pretty good score (it’s a hard course). Not my best on this course and not my worst – a solid round. I hit a high percentage of my shots well – probably 85% – 90%. Had a couple of 15 foot putts dropped (they burned the edge of the cup), the score would have been even better. I missed a hole in one by about 4 inches. I birdied a couple of holes. Yet I wasn’t happy. Why not?
Because the focus of my attention and memory of the round was the bad shots. A couple of bad chips. A bad bunker shot (in my defense, the sand was packed and wet and since one can’t test it, who knew). A horrible lob wedge at the last hole and crappy 9 iron approach at 16. Those are what stuck in my head, not the great shots. It’s totally self-defeating because as I stand over the same kinds of shots next time, those might jump into my head, not the dozens of other times I hit that shot perfectly.
You or your business may be doing the same thing. Lots of folks focus on the bad shots, not the great successes. “New Coke.” The Edsel. The Apple Newton. Crystal Pepsi. Yet Coke, Ford, Apple and Pepsi moved on and have done great things, as have the dozens of other companies with very public failures (Google Wave, last week). We need to as well.
Sometimes supervisors are the issue – they’re the ones not learning from the mistake and letting it go. Sometimes we’re harder on ourselves. Either way, the behavior holds us back, creating fear. Hanging on to the bad shots may be why some organizations don’t ever live up to their potential – and maybe some golfers too.