Leadership lessons from a golf course beating

Every so often I get the privilege of playing at Colonial Golf Club in Fort Worth, Texas.  For some that might not mean anything but to golfers it immediately is recognized.  Colonial is a private course that has hosted a slew of PGA events and is known as the golf home of the legendary, Ben Hogan. [youtube=DEjYC8ecULw]

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Well guess what?  I'm not Ben Hogan.  I am a average (maybe a little to much credit) golfer at best.  Colonial kicks my butt so bad every time I play I wonder why I agreed to play it again.  But I always come back.  I mean, it's a chance to play at THE Colonial.

When I play golf there I think about people and leadership.  People want an amazing experience.  It's the same reason why I agree to play at Colonial when I know it's going to be brutal on the scorecard.  BUT!  I can say I've been lucky enough to play at Colonial.  People want to be able to say, "Yep, I was there."  Or, "Yep, I was on that team when we accomplished (that)."  People should get that opportunity from us as leaders.  That's what we should work for; not just our dreams but a collective dream of a team.

So with that in mind, here are some leadership lessons I learn at Colonial:

1.  Put down the telescope - The main reason Colonial kicks my butt is because I can only play the shot I'm currently hitting.  To beat that course, the player has to always be thinking about the next shot and then put the ball in the best place for the next shot.  My golf game is like tunnel vision.  And this is how most new leaders coach...through a telescope.  We focus on one or two things instead of seeing the whole picture, which doesn't include the next shot either.  Great leaders are always looking to what's the next challenge for individuals or their team and coaches them towards those things.

2.  Bring the right sticks - Colonial has fairway bunkers that look like spring break destinations.  The beach is open kids.  The pros carry the right clubs in their bags to play out of those bunkers.  I think there are some essential "sticks" every modern leader needs to carry in their bag today: Generosity.  Affirmation.  Vision.

3.  Bring a pro - My first time at Colonial the relative who had the membership couldn't play with us.  The course rule is a golf pro employed at the course has to play with you when the member is not in attendance.  The pro would talk about how to play into the next shot.  Hazards to be aware of.  What this other pro did in this exact same spot.  Too many leaders are scared to ask for help in new situations.  I'm telling you, bring a pro.

Here's good news: You're capable of playing at the highest level.  Remember to not get locked into the immediate.  Have the right sticks in your bag that are appropriate for the modern era of leadership.  And don't be afraid to seek help from a pro who's been there before!