For me, this is the greatest week in sports. The roars of the crowd echo through the hills of Augusta, and the azaleas are in full bloom. The best in the world have earned their spot for the 82nd Masters, where the green jacket is the ultimate goal.
Playing on the biggest stage in golf, these players have to calm their emotions and get down to business. They must reach into their bag and find the essential elements to navigate 72 holes. To win the Masters requires many of the same essentials needed to win in business.
The last tournament is in the past, and the next tournament is simply on the calendar. Today, we focus on where we are, our goals, and what we need to do to bring it home. Research has proven that those that multitask are not more productive. Our brains have limited capacity and fundamentally do not multitask. When we move from one area of focus to another, we become exhausted and inefficient. The better you understand yourself, your psychology, and your emotions, the better able you will be to hold yourself in the right emotional state for focus. This will allow you to overcome the obstacles you will inevitably face.
In looking back on my second startup, it is evident our growth did not reach the goals I set. Why? It was because we entered too many verticals, instead of focusing on one or two verticals. We could not dominate a vertical because we were not focused on it. Stay focused on your key area of strength, and you’ll be amazed at the results.
HBR says it best. “A good strategy provides a clear roadmap, consisting of a set of guiding principles or rules, that defines the actions people should take (and not take) and the things they should prioritize (and not prioritize) to achieve desired goals.” For every golfer walking the hallowed ground this week, look at that flimsy big notebook in their back pocket. That is their strategy. Where to hit it, how far to the flag, and how far to hit it to clear an obstacle like Rae’s Creek in Amen Corner. Just like a great golfer, we need strategy. What is your playbook? Who is holding you accountable to staying on course?
This week, watch how many times the caddie will look to his book as much as the golfer. The caddie is keeping the golfer on course and holding him accountable. Be sure to document and share your strategy with someone you trust to hold you accountable. You must empower this person(s) to speak truth and not be mere “yes” people.
In my first company, I had an older employee who used to say, “Ten cents, ten cents… It all adds up.” He was telling me to grow the company steadily and not to try and move too fast. One of my mentor’s favorite statement is, “Don’t out punt your coverage.” These older, wiser men knew that to grow a business, you need pace. Yes, the “hockey stick” growth plans look great on PowerPoint decks, but there is much pain when that occurs.
Golfers realize that pace on the course and pace on the putt are crucial to success. You can’t hurry it. Do your best to be methodical and operate according to a plan. Watch the golfer before every shot or putt. He is practicing and visualizing what he must do.
You need to have a process that enables you to grow your business, while growing cash. If you don’t you’ll run out of money, and when you do, three things will happen:
- You go out of business
- You have to borrow money
- You have to give up equity in your business
J.D. Rockefeller stated his reason for success was simple, “Surround yourself with people smarter than you.” I always enjoy hearing Jordan Spieth after a big win. He always talks about “team” and not about Jordan. He understands that winning takes more than one person.
Each executive has unique gifts, but the strength of the team is essential. A golfer needs a caddie, swing coach, putting coach, and generally, a sport psychologist. To win in business requires a team with strengths that will fill your weaknesses. According to Jim Collins, the weakness of a company stems from the strength of the CEO. As a company scales, a CEO with great sales skills will have a weak sales team. Why? The CEO will not let go and empower the team to flourish. Empower those around you to utilize their gifts to elevate the team and company.
As the player goes inside the ropes of Augusta, he always has his coach with him. On the putting green, driving range, and walking the course, the coach is always close by. The great athletes and business leaders have coaches in their life. They are there to see things (blind spots) that may be missed by the golfer/executive. Coaches will speak truth and bring self-awareness. Coaches keep you focused and stand with you when things get a little off-course.
Find a coach that has achieved success in the area of your need. Remember, most golf coaches are focused. Some coaches are swing coaches and some are putting coaches. If you are an executive, get an experienced executive coach who has walked in your shoes. Do not settle for less.
There is not a golfer walking Augusta who thinks he can’t win it. Granted a first time amateur may have doubts, but he knows he has earned the right to be with the best in golf. You have to have faith in your God-given gifts and your God-given purpose. In business, we too need faith. We need faith in our abilities, the abilities of our team members, and the company where we take the helm each day. If you lack faith, you lose focus. If you lose focus, your plan fails. If your plan fails, so does your company. You need people around you to encourage you and to pump you up. The caddie is a great example of keeping a person close to walk with you on the course of life. We all need a caddie to encourage us when we misstep and to hold our feet down when we have a big win. When you have those wins, remember the words in Deuteronomy 8:18. “If you start thinking to yourselves, I did all this. And all by myself. I’m rich. It’s all mine! Well, think again. Remember that God, your God, gave you the strength to produce…”
Watching the world’s best navigate Augusta provides great insight to life and business. As scripture states, “you will encounter obstacles.” Having the right tools and people will enable you to stay the course and finish strong. You might not receive a green jacket, but you will be able to celebrate success with your family and team members.
Mitch, and his companies, have served over 570 organizations that include: Aflac, Chick-fil-A, Bose, Cardinal Logistics, Comporium, Darden Restaurants, Dave Ramsey, Genentech, HP, Hobby Lobby, Home Telcom, Jabil, Milliken, Nokia, Southeastern Freight, VF Corporation, and many more.