Over the years, people have been constantly drawing the comparisons between the game of golf, and the game of life. Golf is, to be certain, a unique sport with an almost mystical ability to raise the curtain on a person’s integrity, decision making abilities, mental fortitude, honesty, and general personality. How a person acts, and reacts on a golf course can generally be extrapolated to give an overall impression of how that same person handles issues on the the bigger game, called life. Perhaps this is why so many business deals are stuck on the golf course. Playing golf with someone let’s you learn a bit more about them, and what kind of person they would be to do business with. To illustrate this point, Grantland Rice once wrote, “Eighteen holes of match play will teach you more about your foe than nineteen years of dealing with him across the desk.”
So, if indeed golf does mimic that game of life and business, then one might assume that insights from those legendary golfers who have learned to deal with the game of golf, would be equally as valuable as if they were speaking about the game of life, business, or success. Below, I have listed some of the greatest golf quotes from the golf masters, as well as an explanation about how these quotes can be applied to your everyday business and personal life.
“Competitive golf is played mainly on a five-and-a-half-inch course, the space between your ears.” -Bobby Jones
Golf is a game of mental fortitude, self efficacy, and strong will… as is life. Many times you will find that the greatest barrier standing between what you have and what you want, is in fact yourself. Bobby Jones understood that the most critical part of the golf game was not the swing, that layout of the course, or even the equipment. He understood that to truly excel, you must seek clarity of thought and purpose. You must remove yourself as an obstacle. In business, perhaps this is stomping down self doubt in public speaking, the value of your skill set, or the ability to excel at your job. Reprogram this “five-and-a-half inch space between your ears” to be an asset. Affirm that you can achieve your goals and you do have the skills required to excel. Believe in your ability to attain your goals. Remember, your mind holds the key to manifest success, or disaster. I personally prefer success.
“Most golfers prepare for disaster. A good golfer prepares for success.” -Bob Toski
Building on the previous quote by Bobby Jones, Toski elaborates on this subject. Athletes have long practiced the art of pre-meditation. They envision hitting the homerun, sinking the long put, or running their fastest time. They prepare their minds for success, and they do it over, and over, and over again. They repeat these visions so many times, that when they are put into the situation where they would really have to act, they have already succeeded in their mind hundreds of times. Practice envisioning success in your own life. See yourself acing the acceptance test, effectively delivering the keynote speech, or negotiating with a co-worker. Prepare your mind for success… and then live it.
“Don’t be too proud to take a lesson. I’m not.” - Jack Nicklaus
Life is a constant game of learning. Those who are the most successful are full time students of life and their occupation. Ego can be a dangerous thing when it comes to advancing your own knowledge. Ask many questions, learn from those around you, and have the strength to identify your weaknesses. Once you have identified them, seek the appropriate knowledge to fill the void.
“This is a game of misses. The guy who misses the best is going to win.” - Ben Hogan
While Ben Hogan was commenting on the game of golf, this quote could have easily been made with regard to business or even life in general. If you ask some of the most successful people in the world, they would likely tell you that they learned just as much (if not more) from their “misses”, as from their successes. Analyzing a “miss” is incredibly important aspect of creating future successes. At times, you may be faced with two choices, neither of which seems to be the right one. Look at the outcomes of each, and choose the one that will land you closest to a success… miss better than the next guy.
No-one does everything right on the first try. In fact, without missing, it would be impossible to determine the successful way to do things. If you do get something right on the first try, it’s likely because someone else along the line has missed in the past, and forwarded that knowledge onto you. Learn from your misses to create future successes.
“I never learned anything from a match that I won.” - Bobby Jones
Bobby Jones builds on the previous quote by explaining the value of failing to succeed at a task. Failures can be turned into great assets if viewed in the right light. Have you botched the latest financial reports? Have you accidently broken a piece of company equipment used to do your job? Have you even recently been fired? These failures to succeed are tremendous opportunities to learn and improve. What factors got you to where you are now? What could you have done differently to achieve a more positive result? Ask such questions and prepare yourself to be better equipped to handle similar situations which may arise in the future. Remember, everyone will be eventually faced with a situation where they come up short. It is how we deal with, and learn from these situations that defines us.
“Be decisive. A wrong decision is generally less disastrous than indecision.” - Bernhard Langer
In order to achieve great success, you must be prepared to act. When faced with important decisions, being passive is many times worse than going down the wrong path. As Bernhard Langer states, “be decisive”. This is not to say that you should act recklessly, rather that you should weight your options and pick the best plan of action… and then act. You will learn more, and it is easier to course correct from a state of movement that from a state of passiveness. Follow the “ready, fire, aim” technique and adjust as you go. Remember, while running a race in the wrong direction (and then course correcting along the way) will not necessarily get you to the finish line quickly, no one ever finished a race by sitting on the starting line.
“The most important shot in golf is the next one.” - Ben Hogan
Perhaps the most simple, but profound quote on this list is from Ben Hogan. In golf, it is necessary to put the past behind you, and concentrate on the shot at hand. It makes no difference whether the last shot was an amazing success, or a worm burning ‘chunk’. The past is the past, and what will determine the future is what you do with the shot you have right now. Regardless of the situation that you face in your personal or business life, if you allow yourself to get too caught up in the past, you will not give the appropriate attention to dealing with the tasks at hand that will form your future. Ensure that you succeed at whatever you are involved in at the present, and let the past fade away. After all, your most important shot in life and business is not the last one, it is the next one.
Have you read any other golf quotes that inspire you in your daily personal or business life, or do you have any comments on the ones listed above. We’d love to hear your feedback!
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