One of my favorite golf books that I read this past year was M Scott Peck’s Golf and the Spirit. Peck talks about golf as a metaphor for life. I often look to golf as a metaphor for the entrepreneurial experience. Here are a few examples of what I mean.
Golf is often a game of luck. A bad bounce here or a good bounce there can sometimes make all of the difference in a round. However, even when you get a lucky bounce, you need to know what to do next to take advantage of the lucky break. The same is true in entrepreneurial ventures. Luck is often one of the most important sources of opportunity. But if you are not prepared to act when luck sends an opportunity your way, this lucky break, just like the lucky bounce, won’t matter one bit. It will be wasted.
Ultimately, in golf you are on your own to call the rules. The same is true in your business. Most of the times when you can cheat, be unethical, or even break the law will happen when you are alone to make the choice on how to act. Just like the golfer who finds her ball in an unplayable lie and can make the choice of calling the penalty on herself or moving her ball when no one is looking, the entrepreneur has to make most ethical decisions with only herself to answer to.
Golf is a game that forces you to play your game within your skills. I don’t hit a long ball. In fact, I don’t even carry woods in my bag. So I have to rely on my short game to score. An entrepreneur likewise must learn to build a business that plays to his own strengths. He needs to learn to “play within himself” (sorry Ann!!!).
Golf is a game best played one shot at a time. Never get ahead of yourself in this game or it will cost you! The minute you start thinking a score you can shoot is usually when it all falls apart on you. View your business one day, one pay period, one year at a time. I have seen too many entrepreneurs planning, or even worse spending, fortunes that they have not yet earned. In the process they usually take their eyes off what is critical at the moment and can jeopardize the whole venture.
There are more of these comparisons, but that’s enough for now…some day soon we can talk about “keeping it in the short grass”, “putt like a kid”, and many other truisms for golf and entrepreneurship.