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Drawing Comparisons

Drawing comparisons from two seemingly different walks of life can be, to the naked eye, a waste of time. I find myself asking time and time again; in what way can basketball, Andy Murray, the water cycle and learning to drive be in any way related to finding business success in a time of economic hardship?! And yet it seems that every week I read articles that are obsessed with taking two separate entities and squashing and reshaping and hacking away at them to make one perfectly reflective of the other.


Today it is my turn to compare two things that up until recently I did not consider to be related in any which way. It was a Monday morning; the weather was nice, a cool breeze took to the air that made the dew in the grass glisten in the sun. As I was digging around in the shed I found my old golf clubs that hadn’t seen daylight since 1997 and feeling optimistic I gave them a wipe down and headed out to my local driving range.


Dressed the part and feeling quietly confident about the pink-red combo I had chosen that morning, I strutted over to the empty bay where I lined up the balls ready to hit well out into the 300 yards area. With divine focus on my foot positioning, posture, back swing and drive, I swung the club with exhilarating power … “thump” … into the ground in front of the tee. The shock waves rattled through my arms and down my spine to my perfectly positioned feet. A snort of laughter came from the bloke in the next bay. Ignoring his rudeness, I tried again; positioning my feet, posture, back swing and drive and … “thump”! In anger I tried again and again with real concentration on the movements. Now here, you may be thinking that this is the connecting part: keep trying and you will eventually succeed. Not in this case. Here I was doomed for failure and the clubs where heading back to the shed for another 16 years.   


I was feeling grumpy and discouraged and about to go home to sulk when a young boy came over to my bay. “I know why you’re hitting the ball like a donkey.” Excuse me?! Donkey?! “You’re not aiming at anything, you’re thinking too hard.” Still struck by the donkey comment I started packing my things up to go. “Be cooler, relax more.” This was not helping my soaring rage. “What on earth do you mean ‘be cooler’?” I exclaimed, desperately wanting to reduce my embarrassment and get out of there. The boy went on, “I’ve been watching you, you have good feet positioning and everything sure, but you’re not even looking out to the distance. You’ve got to imagine where you want the ball to go.” He went about setting the balls and tee out again for me to have another go. Feeling cynical but interested, I picked out my club.


“Forget about hitting the ball. Relax your body and focus all your attention on where you want the ball to go. Aim for that yellow sign out there.” Looking out into the grassy expanse of land I spotted the yellow sign about 150 yards away. That would be exactly 150 yards further that I had hit so far. “Let your mind be free of anxiety and trust your body to hit the ball.” I did as he said. I didn’t think about my feet or posture or swing. I singularly focused on the ball hitting the yellow sign 150 yards away. As I let my body move naturally, I heard the delightful “ping” of the ball being perfectly knocked off the tee and into the air. It landed just short of the yellow sign. Well I’ll be damned. Who the hell was this kid?!


When I went back to work that afternoon, I tried to apply the same lesson I had learnt that morning to a difficult project I was working on. I had been struggling over one fine detail the evening before and was finding it difficult to really nail it on the head. So I sat back and tried to distinctly identify the main outcome. I focused my energy and thoughts into where I wanted to go, how I wanted to succeed and rejected thoughts of how I was going to get there. The bigger picture became clearer and I was able to recognise what was important to prioritise my attention to.


So here is the link you have all been waiting for: golf and business. Stand back and source the bigger picture. Focus your mind, energy and excitement towards where you want to go and the mechanics of getting there will look after themselves. 

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