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Golfing With a Purpose

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After another great year hosting the annual LABUR-Home Base Golf Outing and as the two organizations prepare to take the stage together this week to accept the Boston Business Journal’s “Partners of the Year” award, I thought a lot about our partnership and our pillar event centered around the great game of golf.

I realized, the lessons I’ve learned in golf have a direct correlation to those lessons I’ve learned in business. Golf is a sport you are forever improving upon, just like business. And even the best golfers will tell you there are still countless improvements they can make to enhance their performance.

Despite their differences, golf and business are a lot alike. Gradual improvements made over time will lead to greater success. The results of continued improvement – and success – allows for even more learning, new experiences, and bigger goals to take shape.

While I can’t quantify or put into words just how proud I am of the LABUR-Home Base partnership and the some $250,000 we’ve raised to help support the world-class clinical care, wellness, education, and research Home Base provides to Veterans, Service Members, and their Families, I do know my golf game during these tournaments can always use improvement.

Here are the lessons golf has taught me, and continues to teach me every time I play:

Understanding the Highs and Lows

Just like in business, golf is a game of highs and lows. Sometimes you find yourself playing the best you’ve ever played and sometimes you find yourself shooting way above par. These bad days might make you want to give up and put the clubs away forever, but the good days remind you why you play the game.

Whether it’s a good day or a bad day, it’s about having perseverance – and never giving up.

At work, there are days that discourage me and others that challenge me and allow me to grow. There have been plenty of not-so-good days full of lessons I didn’t always understand at the time, but Seth, the team, and I never give up. This perseverance got us to where we are today, 10 years later.

The good days are the ones that keep you going, and remind you how much you love what you do. Learn from the highs and the lows, but don’t let them change how you play the game.

Preparation

Hoping and planning don’t work in golf. You can hope that you will do well on the course but that won’t win you the game. Practice is what makes perfect. The constant focus and drive to get out there is what makes the difference. Hope is important when thinking about the future but it’s the “doing” part that will push you towards your future and success.

The constant drive to better yourself is what will move you forward. Reading and networking are two of my best practice tactics. Learn as much as you can from people who are talented and successful – both in the same ways you aspire to be successful but also in ways different than the way you define success. I was fortunate enough to attend and speak at the Fidelis Leadership Accelerator seminar I attended two weeks ago, and this was precisely the message: Always be learning, especially as a leader. Challenge yourself to learn something new every day, because planning will only take you so far.

Always Look Forward

Don’t dwell on a bad shot. If you find your ball in the rough, recognize you can’t change the shot but you can look forward to making the best shot out of a bad spot. Look forward. It is easy to get in your own head.

When I have a bad hole, I sometimes dwell on that bad hole and it effects the rest of my game. A positive outlook and a clear head are key.

The same is true in life and in business. Identify what happened in the past that you want to improve for better results in the future, make those changes, and move on. We are only human. Identify, learn, adapt, move forward.

It’s Not Just About the Drive

You can aim for the hole-in-one, but small consistent steps are what golf is really all about. You can hit the ball all the way down the freeway but if you’re putting game is off then those perfect drives don’t mean anything.

Look long, but don’t forget about the importance of the small putts, too. They’re what will win you the game.

Golf is a strategic sport, and so is business. Learn, grow, adapt; otherwise, you’ll never win the game.

Golf is also a great way to get out there and network, or in LABUR’s case support a great cause. I look forward to the LABUR-Home Base Golf Tournament every year, and I hope you’ll consider joining us on the green in 2019.