Practice for Success
What golf game I have, I owe to Dad. He was my teacher, coach and the best playing partner ever.
“You’re breaking your wrists too early.”
“Hit the back of the ball first. Don’t hit the ground.”
“You should feel your weight shift from one foot to the other, and that gives your swing the power to propel the ball.”
“Son, keep your head down.”
I’ve heard those phrases a million times. Early in my golf game, I had a notorious habit of picking my head up on the backswing. This would absolutely drive Dad up a wall. Being a natural innovator, Dad stood next to me and put the grip end of a golf club on my head while he held the other end of the club.
Amazingly, I kept my head down. We didn’t do that just once or twice. I took at least 50 to 100 practice swings with that on my head. We’d go to the golf course and get buckets of balls and just practice. I’d beg to play. “Let’s hit the course, Dad!” Nope. He was adamant that I had to learn the fundamentals before trying to spread my wings on an actual course.
Eventually, I got on the course and we’d play golf as much as possible. As we played, he was ever the coach. He’d see something in my swing and try to help me fix it. While in college, Dad drove down and we played a round at the course the university owned. During that round, I made the quip to Dad, “I’d love to be as good as Curtis Strange” (Curtis Strange being my favorite golfer of all time). Without hesitating, Dad said, “Then practice. I know he’s your favorite golfer so I did a little research. Curtis hits 500 balls in the morning. Then he does bunker practice and then hits the putting green for 45 minutes. It’s only then he goes on the course to play 18 holes. After he plays, he returns to the practice tee and hits 500 more balls and then works on chipping game.”
Dad’s point? If you want the game of Curtis Strange, you must put in the time and practice that Curtis does. Some of you reading this want to be the next Steve Jobs, Jack Welch or Jeff Bezos. Hit the practice tee. What do I mean? You must do the little things now so you can handle big things later. Is the team asking you to write blogs? Practice writing. Choose a topic and just write. More video? Get in front of a camera and practice trying to be natural. What head movements work and which ones don’t? Worried you won’t be able to make the decisions? Start making small ones. Rearrange workloads. Put people in the right seats. Make financial choices.
Whether you realize it or not, those small decisions are the practice you’ll need for the bigger decisions later in your leadership career. There’s no shortcut to success. You must put in the time and effort. Be like Dad…practice, practice and practice some more. Never look for the easy way out. Do that and you’ll be on the path to leadership endurance.