Even though the snow is melting, with over a foot still on the ground I suspect it will be quite some time before I’m back on the golf course. That won’t stop me from thinking about it, however. If you’ve read the screed with any regularity you know that I often find business lessons in the game and today I want to point out another one which came to mind.
On the golf course I have a nasty habit of beating myself up mentally. I might hit a few good shots in a row but the subsequent bad shot (I’m not very good so there are quite a few of those) tends to stay with me. Rather than considering the offline shot an anomaly I take it to be an indicator that I truly stink at the game and will never be any good and I should not be out here and…well, you get the idea. The worst part of it is that those thoughts continue as I stand over the only shot that matters on a golf course – the next one. A sports psychologist would tell you that I’m not staying in the present – my mind is focused on something that’s done and over which I no longer have any control. This is bad on a physical level since anger creates tension and tension is not your friend while trying to swing a golf club. Obviously it’s not great for your blood pressure either. But it’s also bad on a mental level because I’m focused on the wrong thing – the last shot, not the next one.
We do this in business too. We all make mistakes – it’s part of learning and growing. The key to being really successful is to learn from those mistakes and to forgive yourself. We can’t change the shots we’ve already hit so we need to move on mentally and emotionally. We can’t hit “undo” on many of our business choices but we can continue to write them anew each day. This applies to dealing with others – subordinates, partners, etc. – as well as to ourselves. Forgive and remember, maybe?
My golf game is a constant work in progress. So is my business life. I’ve vowed not to get angry on the course for more than a few seconds after a bad hit and then to let it go. I’ll forgive myself for my mistake. I’ll try to figure out what happened and fix it but attempt to do so without anger or fear. Golf is hard. So is business. Every shot is a new chance. So is every day in business.
You ready to try that with me?