Respect, Running a Business, and More

small business lessonsWhen I was nine years old, my dad bought me my first set of golf clubs. And while I never turned out to be quite the Tiger Woods I thought I could be, I still play the game as often as I can. Most families have their thing, and based on the fact that my parents now live on a golf course and play several rounds a week—I think golf is our thing.

For those with no connection to the game, golf is a slow, methodical, emotional, and highly analytical game. It’s the kind of game that you either dedicate to learning and loving or play once and refuse to ever touch again.

Whether it was intentional or not, my dad taught me a great deal about running a business, dealing with difficulty, and respecting people while on the golf course. Here are the highlights so far:

  1. Don’t laugh at other people’s shots

One time my uncle hit a ball (from the rough), straight into a tree about 10 feet in front of him. The ball then bounced back and barely missed his shins. Being about ten years old, I burst into laughter on the golf course.

That’s how I learned not to laugh at people when they mess up. Sounds simple I know. Business, like golf, is a Ferris wheel.  At some points you are up, and at others you are down. The important thing to remember is that you will always find yourself on the other side sooner or later. So don’t laugh at those on the bottom because you’re going to need their help when it’s you down there.

  1. Take your medicine

This is an expression my dad used for when I hit a ball wildly into the rough. As an enthusiastic competitive golfer, I always wanted to find a way to hit the trick shot that curved around fifteen trees and landed on the green.

“Take your medicine” dad would say.

That was his way of saying that I’d hit a bad first shot and needed to first get out of the woods before going for the green.  In business that means you should fix broken things before looking to take more extreme risks. Most of the time I ended up in the woods because I had taken a risk off on the first shot.

So when that risk didn’t pan out, I had to play the next one safe to set myself up for success. If you write a highly controversial blog post and the traffic is terrible and your audience hates it, write a few conservative ones before swinging for the fences again.

  1. Hurry up, then take your time

This might be dad’s most confusing saying. In golf it meant that you should get to your ball as fast as possible so that the people behind you weren’t waiting on you, but that you should take your time with your swing.

In marketing it means you should be very efficient in your menial tasks like sending emails, scheduling your time, setting up meetings. But you should be slow and deliberate at the important stuff like creating blog posts,  preparing your speeches, etc.

  1. Keep your head down

Anybody who’s ever even casually played golf has undoubtedly heard this phrase before. For those who haven’t, golf is a game where the best shot of your life and the worst shot of your life are literally less than a centimeter apart. Keeping your head down throughout the entirety of your swing is necessary in producing an accurate shot.

The takeaway to me is that the focus should always be on producing quality material and that there’s no point in looking up until you’ve finished the process. Dad would always say of my shots,

“Don’t look up. I’ll tell you where it goes”

Your customers will tell you if the product is good. The metrics will tell you if the product is good. Focus your time and efforts on making the product great so that way when you do look up, your customers are pleased with your efforts.

I’m sure I’ve still got plenty left to learn from my dad and the great game of golf, but so far these are my highlights. Can you think of any to add?

image credit: debspoons/