Business and golf: The game is the same

On the course, the only genuine measure of success is when all strokes are counted. “Mulligans” aren’t real. In business there are very few, if any, second chances. COURTESY PHOTO

Ken Keller

SCVBJ Contributor

The country is starting to open up, and you can now actually watch golf tournaments on television again.

Professional golf is much more than watching the grass grow; I recently watched a tournament using it as an opportunity to compare how golf is much like business. Read on and enjoy:

Golf is highly competitive; a golfer plays against others, and against their own record. Each time out they measure their results against par. In business, that means finishing better than planned results; and better than the prior year.

Efficiency matters. Golfers use limited resources to achieve the lowest score (fewest shots) to win. Having limited resources is standard in business; winning is non-negotiable.

Golfers that practice are more likely to win. Talent is great, but even a mediocre golfer knows that to improve requires a commitment to practice. In business, only the best in sales practice, which leaves opportunities for improvement in most companies.

Golfers believe in winning. In your company if you have doubters about winning, well, maybe they should play elsewhere.

Every golfer has a definition of what winning is; can every employee in your company say what winning is for the business?

Golfers keep their eyes on the prize. Distractions are plentiful but winners stay focused. In business, everyday there are distractions disguised as opportunities.

A golfer can’t be lulled into thinking that nothing matters but results. Why? Having great results often hides other problems and businesses often die because of this tunnel vision.

Patience is essential. Those who take their time and play for the long haul succeed more often. On the golf course or in the boardroom, patient play wins.

Everything counts. On the course, the only genuine measure of success is when all strokes are counted. “Mulligans” aren’t real. In business there are very few, if any, second chances.

Having a place of peace is essential. A golf course should be a sanctuary; the game of golf is something to enjoy. In business, every CEO needs a place of quiet to think, to gain perspective.

Golfers and CEOs should both embrace their personality. The successful know who they are and they don’t try to be someone or something they are not. These individuals are genuine.

Every player receives unsolicited advice about how to do better out on the course. It might be about how the club is gripped, stance, swing or putt. In business it is the same way. I recommend avoiding these well-intentioned people.

The successful have a routine to lean on because during tough times a solid foundation is essential. This means having processes and procedures that work to achieve the desired goals. Businesses with strong operating systems (foundation) are more efficient and are worth more too.

Many professional golfers also have a coach who works with them one on one to improve their game. Did you know that having a coach, and being coached, is something that the best in every industry utilize?

A coach sees things in us that we do not see in ourselves. They then teach us to take full advantage of our strengths, empowering us with positive, self-belief and encouragement.

In these challenging times, who couldn’t use some of that?

Ken Keller is an executive coach who works with small and midsize B2B company owners, CEOs and entrepreneurs. He facilitates formal top executive peer groups for business expansion, including revenue growth, improved internal efficiencies and greater profitability. Email:[email protected]. Keller’s column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of the SCVBJ. ν

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