What Can We Learn About Business and Coaching From Collegiate Golf?

I recently read a great article in the December 2019/January 2020 issue of Golf Digest by Derek Duncan, entitled How We Roll.  The article focused on several players and coaches of the University of Texas and Vanderbilt University golf teams.  Buried within the presentation of the school’s various coaching systems and the discussion of their conditioning, practice and competitive rituals were many concepts that directly translate into the world of business.  In addition, these same concepts underlie many of the fundamentals inherent in business coaching.

Coach John Fields is the longtime coach of the number one ranked (coming into the 2019-2020 season) University of Texas Longhorn’s golf team.  Coach Fields is one of the deans of college golf.  He has coached the Longhorns 23 years of his 33-year coaching career.  To quote the article, “he runs the program with the wise, dispassionate confidence of a second term president.  He can be stern but warm …”  Vanderbilt’s coach Scott Limbaugh has transformed the Commodores into a national collegiate golf powerhouse since he arrived there in 2012.

Here are a few highlights:

  • Conditioning – both teams devote time toward golf specific physical conditioning. In business coaching, we coach our clients to condition themselves and their teams to deliver their product or service with absolute consistency.  As one of our presentation slides says

“Consistency = The Foundation For Healthy Growth”

  • Teamwork – While all to the team members compete for the limited number of player slots at each tournament, they are totally and completely supportive of their team members. They understand the value of teamwork and hold each other accountable to team standards. During tournaments, the selected players feel the pressure that results from not wanting to let their teammates down.  Teamwork is the key to building a successful, growing business.  How are you maximizing teamwork in your company?  Are you getting maximum leverage of your and your team’s talents? 
  • Practice – Quite simply, they practice their butts off. However, their practices do not consist of random hitting balls on the range or practice rounds.  They practice with purpose, working on strengthening the areas of their games that the numerous statistics lead them to.  They practice to round out their games, to develop situational awareness and competitive instincts.  They practice their fundamentals and hone their instincts beyond firing at pins and exact yardages.  What practice and training have you implemented in your business?  Sales training?  Customer service training?  Training on the company Mission Vision and Culture?
  • Competition – As mentioned above the team members compete for player slots for most tournaments. In business, competition sharpen skills, focus and lead to increased results.  Are you running sales competitions?  Do you reward and celebrate wins and achievements?
  • Coaching – Both coaches help their team members to a deeper understanding of competitive collegiate golf.
    • That score is not the only measure of success.
    • Which statistics matter the most?

Coach Fields summed it up this way … “I really want to see if our performance can approach our talent level.”  Is the performance of your business approaching the talent level of you and your team?  Is your or your team’s talent level up to the level needed to succeed?

If you answered NO to any of the questions above, you need a business coach!

Our mission at ActionCOACH is to assist you to have more YES answers.

Any No’s, Give me a call, NOW!

Highlights from My Vacation Reading

I took the first two weeks of August for a trip to Europe with my wife, Tammy.  Tammy joined one of Berkshire Choral International’s groups which rehearsed and sang in Budapest, Hungary.  While she was in rehearsals I toured Budapest and caught up on my reading, both business and pleasure.  Following are comments about and links to a few of the articles that struck a chord.
  • Jason Fried in the July/August 2017 issue of INC Magazine in an article headlined Starbucks Wasn’t Built in a Day, subtitled “Entrepreneurs are told to go big or go home. Stop obsessing over scale, and perfect the basics.”   In the article Jason talks about John who wishes to open a tea shop, but often drifted to talking about his next shop, and his next shop, etc.  He advises John to slow down and get the basics right before focusing on rapid growth.  I have long agreed with this philosophy.  While there is nothing wrong with having big long range goals, we emphasize long term planning at ActionCOACH, one needs not to get ahead of one’s self.  One of the major points of the ActionCOACH 5-Way Formula is that a business must be built in balance.  Before I joined ActionCOACH, I had several turn-around clients.  One in particular, a consumer goods company, had great marketing and product, but couldn’t reliably deliver their products to their customers, the retail stores.  Ultimately their customers abandoned them in favor of suppliers that had great product, marketed well and consistently delivered.  My client had grown their business out of balance, and could not cover the basics.
  • In the July 2017 issue of Golf Digest an article about confidence by Sam Weinman titled What If Everything You’ve Been Told To Think Is Wrong? caught my eye. Within the article are several concepts that apply equally to business as well as golf.  One very important concept was highlighted by a quote from Dr. Fran Pirozzolo, a sports psychologist and mental-skills coach “Confidence is a garbage term in that it induces illusions of competence.”  If in business, we confuse confidence with competence, our mind will be closed to our limitations and that will limit our ability to construct plans to overcome them.  It is the difference between an “I Know” attitude which cuts off learning and an “Isn’t that interesting” attitude which encourages learning.

Another concept applicable to business revolves around Stanford psychology professor Carol Dweck’s division of our mind-sets into two categories:

– Fixed mind-set – people who seek validation of their abilities – Growth mind-set – people who believe their skills can be cultivated through effort

The final concept that jumped off the page also came from Dr. Pirozzolo – “Don’t believe the hype.”  During my career in the fashion industry, I was aware of countless fashion designers who crashed and burned because they believed the hype and were unable to adjust to changing market and business realities.

  • From the September 2017 issue of Success Magazine John C. Maxwell has an article about time management 4 Tips to Set Yourself Up for a Better Tomorrow Today.” The title of the article says it all.  In our TimeRICH seminar, we encourage the audience to be militant about their time.  Along the militant line, Maxwell’s article contains a great quote I intend to add to the TimeRICH presentation:

“Guard well your spare moments. They are like uncut diamonds. Improve them, and they will become the brightest gems.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

These are just a few of the ideas I gleaned during my vacation reading, I hope you will find them useful.

What Can We Learn About Business From Luke Donald?

While catching up on my non-business reading the other day, I read an article in the May 2012 edition of Golf Digest by Jaime Diaz about Luke Donald (Golf Digest Article).  The article triggered a few ideas about business that will assist you in achieving greater success as a businessperson:
  1. If You Want To Manage It, You’ve Got To Measure It (An oldie but a goodie) – Shot-Link has provided professional golfers many additional pieces of data they can use to improve their game.  Luke Donald, not the longest hitter in the game, looked at the stats, selected several to focus upon, and took action to build on his strengths.  Result? Luke attained number 1 position on the World Golf Ranking for 40 consecutive weeks.  The lesson, carefully develop and select your KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators),  measure them consistently and develop an action plan to improve your results.
  2. Build On Your Strengths – Many times we are tempted to improve those things we are not good at instead of building on our strengths.  In business, we can, and should, improve on our strengths and, without totally ignoring, effectively delegate those things we are not good at, hate to do, or shouldn’t be doing.  Luke did not ignore his driving accuracy while he became “a colossus astride the vital real estate from 100 yards and in.”  Turn defense into offense.
  3. Cover The Fundamentals – In order to achieve consistency Luke Donald went to work on his fundamentals.  Consistency is perhaps the key ingredient in your recipe for long-term success.
Working with an ActionCOACH business coach is mostly about all of the above.  To learn how I, or my colleagues will assist you being ranked number 1 in your field, please contact me.