Management is not a game of perfect

After months of failed attempts, my best man eventually convinced me to start playing golf.

It is a game for old men, I thought. In my mid-forties, I am not that young anymore.
It is a game for rich men, I thought. Not more expensive than many other things we do.
It is hard to learn how to play, I thought. Damn right I was!

When I started to handle those clubs trying to hit the ball, I soon realized there was much I could learn from the game; a parallel between golf and my job immediately formed in my mind.

Let me try to quickly summarize some aspects of this equivalence; I hope you can see the parallel as much as I do.

Small steps

You won’t become a great golfer on day one; nor on year one. Neither you will have the full trust of your body and mind right away, for free. It is a process, instead. Listen to your body, and practice as much as you can. You will learn something new every day, incrementally building up your game.

If you can learn just one small thing every day, you are set for success. If instead, you are anxious to shoot 170 yards with your 7 iron, I have bad news for you: you may even be able to do it here and there if you are lucky, but you will hit one good shot out of ten on the driving range, or maybe even three, but then when you are playing on the grass, you will mishit ten out of ten. Focus on a good impact first, with a good address position, and a good backswing, and you will constantly hit good short shots. When you are confident enough, you can start adding rotational speed and shoot farther. When you do add speed, if your shots start taking weird slices or hooks, then you may need to take one step back and fix your swing before you proceed. But when you start, be content with your 50-80 yards if you can hit them consistently.

As a manager, you will need time to earn your team’s trust, and to learn how to be effective with the skillset you have.

Think positive

Always picture yourself making the shot you want to make. Do not let toxic thoughts creep into your conscious self, making you think that you won’t make it. Leave those thoughts out of the door, because if you think you will fail, it is quite likely you will fail.

Accept failure

Things won’t always go as expected. Even great golfers mishit sometimes, more often than you’d think.

The difference between a great golfer and a good one is how they react to failures. If your drive goes into the woods, do not blame yourself and think this is the beginning of the end, and your game is ruined, and blah blah blah. It is just one shot, and you have plenty more in the round to make up for that little mistake.

Getting angry at yourself will make things worse, your focus being taken away from the game. Stay focused on what matters.

Worst case scenario, you have learned something new.

Remember the ol’ good moments

The human being is an awesome and weird machine: our brains are wired in a way that makes us inclined to give more weight to negative experiences instead of keeping the good ones in higher regard. This is a survival trick, an inheritance of the ancient days when remembering an encounter with a predator made a difference between survival and death, i.e. making the same mistake twice was not an option.

However, in the third millennium, we should really try to focus on the positive moments of our lives, to build a positive image of ourselves.

Remember that time when you made a putt from three meters for a birdie? Or when you took the sand wedge and made the ball fly out of the bunker, over a bush, and landed it directly on the green?
Those are the moment you should take dear and close to your heart and mind while you are playing. That is your true potential, and the memory of those moments is there to remind you what you are capable of, even when things are not going as you expected.


These are only some of the aspects that make golf mentality so close to management. There are others, and if you want to delve a bit deeper into the subject, I can recommend this book by Bob Rotella:

The first part of the book is of universal understanding, I think, as it does not require any specific prior knowledge. If you are not familiar with the game of golf, though, the second part of the book may sound abstruse at times and perhaps not fully relatable. But with a certain degree of knowledge of the mechanics and rules, translating those lessons from the links to our job becomes easier.

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