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Know how: How golf is like business

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Jeff Robinson, director of hospitality operations at Forewinds Hospitality

Neither golf nor managing a business is a game of perfection. Exhilarating and humbling, both demand a measured approach of understanding the big picture while not missing any of those important details.

Enjoy the struggle

Golf is hard. While not demanding from a cardiovascular perspective, golf requires a unique set of qualities that are both challenging and counterintuitive. To hit it far, swing smoothly. To play this shot well, forget the last shot. And so it is in business. Be your most calm when things are in chaos, and forgive yourself while learning from the errant decisions of yesterday.

Be honest and play fair

Golf is the sport with the largest field of play and no referee. Penalties rely on a willingness to be honest, own your mistakes, and endure the consequences. Be exceedingly willing to admit your errors – even embrace them. Let your customers and co-workers know when a rule has been broken or a commitment missed. An honest score of 101 provides more satisfaction than a cheater’s 99.

Let the ball get in the way

A great golf instructor once said, “Don’t focus on hitting the ball – make a good swing and let the ball simply get in the way.” When managing a business, allow the goal to be the earned result of all those good decisions you made – one at a time – each day.

Remove your cap

Recently, the custom of removing your cap and shaking hands with your opponent at the conclusion of a golf match has returned. It’s a quiet breeze of civility in the hurricane of 21st century professional sports. Interact with customers, prospective clients and even lost customers with grace and sincerity. And when an employee or account moves on, wish them well and present an open invitation to be of assistance or support moving forward.

Focus on the why

Why do we really play golf? To win The Masters? That’s never going to happen for nearly everyone. The motivation becomes less about score or yardage and more about fellowship, fun and friends. Clients will appreciate it when we explain why certain terms must be upheld, or the reasoning behind a rate adjustment or product change. Likewise, valued employees will respect us sharing the motive or logic of a business decision. Once they’re firmly on the fairway, both the guests and our teams can really begin to score.

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