My final round of the year last week (with Jim and John) reminded me how the great game of golf is often used as a metaphor for life. It’s chockablock with competition, challenge, striving, skill development, strategy, variety, fun—and trouble shots. You know, where the ball scoots under shrubs, or you get a nasty fried-egg lie in the bunker, or you need to bend one hard from left to right or keep it below grabby branches. Maybe you even need to bounce the ball off a fence—backhanded. Most golfers hate these shots. I once saw a high six-figure CFO go absolutely ballistic because his ball got plugged in the sand (where he hit it).
I learned long ago to embrace trouble shots. What an opportunity for concentration and creativity! I work hard on them, expecting good results. This isn’t false optimism. It’s actually creating a vision, a pathway. Consequently, I often “pull it off.”
Today, I had a chance to see how this attitude applies to everyday life. A car accident knocked out the power about 2:30. We awoke with a start. We heard Mercy Flight arrive. The smoke alarm system was yelping loudly, I couldn’t turn it off. My dog got miffed and peed on the rug we just had cleaned. And then, after fitful sleep, I arose early for an important meeting—one that didn’t happen. At 9am the security company claimed loopholes and refused to come fix the alarm. Yikes, bad day shaping up. Frustrated and muttering, I decided to tackle the alarm myself. I dragged a monstrous wooden stepladder from the barn, jockeyed it up a twisting stairways, and wrenched my back after finally managing to pry the offending sensor apart. I was fuming.
Then it hit me: Trouble Shots. I calmed down. Hoisting the heavy stepladder was good exercise, right? Fixing the alarm would test my skill and save a $200 electrician call. My bride might even give me a high five. Besides, the kid who hit the electric pole couldn’t mop up the dog whizz because he was in the hospital. And our handyman high school classmate, Chuck, couldn’t fix the alarm because he had died two weeks ago from a fast cancer. Perspective matters. I settled down and fixed the alarm.
Try this yourself at work. Next time you face a trouble shot, recognize it as such, and don’t automatically default to frustration, or worse. Instead, consider it an opportunity to test and grow your own and your staff’s skills. Get creative. Envision a worthwhile result and find a positive pathway. Go at it with confidence and I am absolutely convinced that your team will up its game.