The Next Great Shot

Up until April, I’d never really played golf. It takes patience and time – two things I’m short on. So I never attempted to learn. Now that my kids are going off to college, however, I’ve decided to give it a shot.

I signed up for lessons. I learned how to hold my club. I found a nearby driving range. And, for the past three months, I’ve been playing this game I’ve been writing about for years.

I’ve learned some things about myself in this game. Things that apply to my work life as well as my golf game:

One, I play better when I’m having fun. On the golf course, that means the course isn’t crowded and my partner doesn’t take his/her game too seriously. At the office, it means we keep the stress level low even when the stakes are high. Each day, we spend large amounts of our clients’ money communicating to and engaging with their target audiences. It’s a whole lot easier to come up with effective ideas in a fun, relaxing atmosphere.

Two, every stroke is a new opportunity. It’s kind of cool that you can blow one shot completely in golf and then hit the next one perfectly. Taking your time with each and every shot makes all the difference in the world. Creative projects are the same way. Not every ad you work on will be extraordinary, but it could be – even if your last one stank. So we can approach each and every project with enthusiastic optimism.

Three, one good shot will keep you in the game. After hitting a few sixes, sevens and eights, I can get really down, but one good pitch where the ball hits the pin and, suddenly, I LOVE this game! It’s the same way at work: when you know you’re dead on, strategically and creatively, nothing feels better! Those great moments – in golf and in advertising – are what keep you going.

Four, serious money can be made if you keep a profanity pool. (This one speaks for itself.)

Five, equipment matters. I’ve been playing with my mom’s old Titleist clubs since day one. I told my instructor I didn’t want to invest in new equipment until I got better. He (and EVERYONE else) has been telling me that I will get better when I invest in new, more forgiving clubs. (I was recently told by an experienced golfer that one look at my clubs tells him I’m either an awesome golfer or I have no idea what I’m doing. Clearly, it’s the latter). At work, I never hesitate to invest in the latest software and computers because it helps us work better and more efficiently. I guess I should consider carrying my work philosophy into my golf game. OK . . . but I’m going to buy “used”!

Six, the number on your scorecard doesn’t necessarily reflect your round. My favorite golf rounds haven’t been the ones that gave me my lowest scores. They’ve been the ones that gave me one or two of those great moments that keep you in the game. Work is no different. My favorite jobs aren’t the most lucrative. They’re the ones that I really feel we nailed. Not surprisingly, they also tend to be the ones that are most effective for our clients as well.

I think I’m going to learn a lot from this game. I have 5 more lessons to take and a seemingly infinite number of courses to play. I’d like to break 100 some day soon. But, in the meantime, I’ve got more than 100 chances per round to hit that next “great shot.”