Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Imagine trying to hit a little white ball out of a sandy hollow on a freezing winters day in a howling gale with horizontal rain, wearing brand new golfing shoes, using 20 year-old golf clubs and playing a sport you haven't attempted for 15 years.
Add to this you're playing with three complete strangers you have never met before, and one of those is a masters golfing professional who has won more than a million dollars in prize money and has won more West Australian Open Golfing Championships than any other player in history.
Well, this was my experience at the inaugural golfing day at the prestigious Cottesloe Golf Club for The Executive Connection (TEC).
It was a great day, terrible conditions, but reminded me of some of life's lessons from golf.
I was also lucky to play a few holes with professional seniors golfer, Terry Gale (pictured) and TEC members Chris King from Capital Partners and Arnold Stroobach CEO of Zernike Australia.
Terry Gale is an absolute legend, inducted as a Life Member of Australasian Tour in 1997, brought up on a wheat farm at Yelbeni, north east of Perth in Western Australia and didn't turn pro until aged 30 after captaining a Western Australian Colts cricket team that included Dennis Lillee, Rod Marsh and Bruce Yardley.
It was intimidating, but one of the joys of spending time with a professional from outside of your own industry is that you learn a lot.
Before I did an MBA, I used to play golf frequently, but find it is too slow for me.
Despite this, golf is difficult, challenging, fun and rewarding. The game is also about challenging yourself, not competing with others.
The golf metaphor is a useful linguistic structure to help generate ideas, concepts, models, and theories for describing, examining, and understanding how to be a better communicator.
I believe my golfing experience is of educational value because it simplifies difficult concepts, shorten communication cycles, and generates interest in how to be a more persuasive influencer.
So what did I learn from playing with the legend, Terry Gale?
When you relax, you limit the height of your back swing, and allow the club head to fall naturally in a gentle and controlled arc toward the ball, you get better distance and accuracy than you can imagine or understand.
When under pressure, doing a media interview or giving a presentation, learn to relax.
2. Outside View
Get a coach, mentor or video yourself because being able to see what you are doing from the outside can really help you on the inside.
3. Learn the Language and Rules
Golf is a complex game with its own terminology. If you want to play well, learn the common language like birdies, bogies, eagles, hooks, slices, buried lies, the rough, traps and bunkers, the left-to-right fade, the right-to-left draw, the yips, the dreaded shank, and of course, gimmes, mulligans and NAGAs.
Learn the language that is going to resonate most with your audiences.
4. Face Your Fears
Golf like public speaking involves psychological fears.
Fears of hitting poor shots, looking foolish, forgetting what to say or losing your ball in a water hazard. It is best to accept that fear and tackle it head-on. In practice, focus on the shots and situations that make you nervous or afraid until your fear is replaced with confidence.
5. Learn From Everything
Try to see every situation, good or bad, as a learning experience. When you learn from every experience, your confidence grows.
6. Take One Shot or Speech at a Time
This is one of the most important concepts of all. For each shot, you must let go of positive and negative emotions and focus on the task at hand, making the best swing that you possibly can. You are going to feel angry after bad shots and elated after exceptional ones; accept those feelings and quickly move on. A consistent pre-shot routine can help you stay in the moment in both golf and public speaking.
7. Focus on What You Can Control
Golf is a game of skill and luck. No matter how well you play, someone else might play better. No matter how solid you swing, your ball may bounce into a terrible lie. In golf, as in life, there is no sense in fuming over things you cannot control. Use your energy thinking and working on what you can change.
8. There Are No Shortcuts
Golf can seem frustrating at times and improvement comes only with time and hard work. Once you accept that there are no quick fixes, you’ll get more out of the game. You’ll get the satisfaction that comes from working hard at something rewarding.
Golf is one of the few professions in which reward is directly linked to performance.
Aiming at the target and setting the mission and vision statement, goals are critical.
Observation - Orientation - Decision – Action is a the process for selecting the right club, swing and approach for each shot.
This must be done for each speech, message or audience.
10. Mental Attitude
Golf performance is 80 per cent in the mind. Your mental attitude before each shot can also impact your outcome, and your attitude after each poor shot then affects the potential outcome of the next. Not beating oneself up and protecting ones psychology is imperative!
This is the same for public speaking.
Please consider our next course on public speaking on June 23rd.
Middle Managers Conference Midlands District Education Department, Muresk Institute of Agriculture, Northam June 4th
Pictured with Adrian Lister, Deputy Principal York District High School, Jacquie Sandhu, Deputy Principal Merredin Senior High School and Lynn McClelland, Deputy Principal Cunderdin District High School
Theme: 'Sustainability: Rural Schools Leading the Community'.
Pictured with Alan McLaren (President) and Kevin Brady Principal Gingin District High School.
Pictured with conference organiser Ken Austin.