I have recently spent a very enjoyable week in Florida with my younger son, Cameron. Cameron is studying in the USA on a golf scholarship, so it was inevitable (at least to him) that we would spend some time on the golf course.
In fact we actually played a round on a course that is part of the US PGA Tour. That in itself doesn’t make the course any more or less challenging for me – my lack of ability makes no such distinction!! But for a golfer these are the elite courses to play. During this round a couple of things happened that made me think about business in general and some experiences I have had with clients.
The first lesson was the concept of having a wider vision. Cameron had articulated his vision for this round of golf at the outset. Ideally he wanted to play the course within his handicap of +4. I come across lots of businesses – some that have such vision and others that don’t. Actually articulating your vision can be scary – because you are actually exposing to everybody what success looks like and hence everybody knows what ‘failure’ will look like. But if you don’t have a vision you can’t even know yourself whether you are succeeding or falling short. That is crucial in business because if you don’t know whether or not you’re succeeding you can’t make the appropriate and timely interventions that are sometimes needed.
But the second lesson was that a vision in itself is not sufficient. You need to have smaller goals along the way, know what to do to achieve those goals and how they contribute to the vision. The example with Cameron here is that one of the later holes on the course was an island green par 3. Those of you that know the 17th at TPC Sawgrass will know what I mean – the hole protected in front by a bunker and with nothing but water between the green and the tee. When I asked Cameron where he was planning on putting his tee shot, he told me he was “going right at the flag.” I thought I was being sensible and knowledgable by asking “does that not bring all the obstacles into play?” His response was – “I‘m not looking at the obstacles, I’m looking at the flag!” He walked off the hole with a par – I walked off with a wet ball!!! The lesson being that Cameron was after a par at worst to keep his vision alive and that by concentrating on the obstacles all he was doing was losing sight of his goal. How many times in business do we allow the obstacles to become a much clearer focus than the goal? Of course we need to recognise when we come up against obstacles but we also need to recognise when we can just plough through them or when we need to detour around them – but the overall focus should still be on the goal.
And for those of you wondering Cameron’s score fo the round was +3!! Mine wasn’t!!!!!