Major Meltdowns Happen in Golf and in Business

April 6, 2011

With The Masters Tournament this week at Augusta National my body is physically here in Seattle but my mind is 2,786 miles away.
Golf and business, there’s so many similarities and a tons of golfing metaphors used to explain business. I’m going to focus on one thing – it’s the major meltdown. We’ve seen it on the golf course, where a golfer has a two stroke lead going into the 18th hole and just needs par to win… just like Phil Mickelson at the 2006 US Open and he ended up with double bogey allowing Geoff Ogilvy to win. How do you explain these kinds of situations? What caused Tiger Woods to go from being a machine who seemingly could not be beat to what he is today? What causes the mighty to fall?
I think Jim Collins sums it up pretty nicely in “How the Mighty Fall“: “What happened in all the great companies that fell is they made a shift from a humble drive to an arrogance, the belief they somehow magically deserved all that success — “We’re just really better than everybody else, and we always will be.” The great irony is that leads to the undisciplined pursuit of more, and it’s very hard to preserve your values and your basic model if you grow too fast.”
Being blinded by success is the trap that is so easy to fall into. You get complacent, you stop innovating, and in a blink of an eye you lose your x-factor and the competition over takes you. You just can’t get cocky because history always tells us that it will not last. Dynasty’s fall. So what do you do to avoid all that?

Take One Shot at a Time

This is probably one of the most important things to do in golf, take one shot at a time. Each time you swing, you must let go of positive and negative emotions and focus on the task at hand.  Too much positive emotion and you’ll swing too fast and lose your rythem. Too much angry emotion and you’ll make a bad decision or swing without confidence.

Never Give Up

The one highlight in 2010 that vividly replays in my mind is from the US Amateur finals held at none other than Chambers Bay (to Host the US Open in 2015).  It’s the 607 yard Par 5, Stanford’s David Chung drives into the ball into the left rough. He flubs his second shot. His third and fourth shots advance him far enough to get within 120 yards. On his fifth shot he uses a wedge to save par.  See video at 1:07 mark.  It’s an absolutely unbelievable shot. The most amazing thing about it is not that he made that shot, but, how he made that shot. Not once did he give up. (watch it on YouTube at the 1:07 mark)
No matter what success you’ve seen, you have to keep learning. You have to keep seeking out mentors – even the best in the world at golf have a coach. You can’t give up. You’re going to fall down, hit a bad shot, but, the next swing you just might knock it in the hole. There are no shortcuts in golf and business. You must have patience and realize that you have to put in the practice time to become great. You have to stay humble.
A fun extra for you readers is the CBS The Masters Tournament Theme Song ringtone. Enjoy!


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