Some people play golf for networking purposes, others play for the relaxation to get their mind off of business as a type of therapy. Regardless of why or how one plays golf, the rules of the game, life and business have quite a bit in common.

Some of the comparisons are obvious and others are subtle: For example, do you play better golf when you are rushed or hurried? Do you make better business decisions with a cool calm thought process? A thoughtful and focused attitude is always beneficial to good decision-making and produces better results in both golf and business.

Consider that golf and business are a series of small events that ultimately lead to the big picture. While the small things seem important at the time, it is the results at the end of the day that truly count. In golf, we use the final score as our measure of success, in business it is the end of the career that should be our scorecard to measure our success.

Focus on the next shot

A flubbed chip shot hurts, but it does not have to destroy the overall score, unless we let it. Obsessing about a bad shot can poison the next shot, then the next one, and so on. It is certainly acceptable to be disappointed and even disgusted for missing a shot you have made hundreds of times. The trick is to acknowledge the disappointment, try to figure out the state of mind or circumstances that led to such a miserable shot, recommit, refocus and then let it go. Learn from mistakes, focus on the next shot coming up, and you’ll feel your confidence building with every step you take to the next shot. After all, you got the bad one out of the way. Even Tiger Woods, by his standards, does not hit everything perfectly. This does not guarantee a successful next shot, but a positive and calm frame of mind certainly increases the odds for a better shot.

In business, anyone can make a mistake that will result in what could be termed a flubbed shot. Much like golf, it is understandable to be disappointed that everything did not go as planned. But similar to golf, we cannot let one mistake manifest itself into a cancer. This can happen in business when the boss resents a small mistake and then makes seemingly harmless off the cuff remarks that can eat at a good employee who made an honest mistake. This can poison team morale in a good company. I have been on great teams and seen morale slip away because of a flubbed chip shot that was magnified out of proportion. The overall score was ruined.

We need to think about the nature of mistakes. In golf, did you flub the shot on purpose? Of course not. Did the key employee purposely sabotage the company? Of course not. We should try to take a lesson from golf and the flubbed chip shot. Be disappointed, let people know and then move on and forget it. If you harbor resentment for the people around you, it will be telegraphed to them and others. It is a fact that good people work better in a positive environment, with confidence knowing they can be trusted and appreciated. Fear of failure will kill a business, just as it will kill a potentially good golf game. There is a TV commercial in which Tiger Woods, after hitting a typical Tiger shot, states: “Confidence is a wonderful thing.” Do you instill the confidence in your people to move forward and expand?

Sandbaggers and cheaters

What about the cheaters in our business? Everyone knows who I mean. The ones who pay cash, even on prevailing-wage jobs, substitute quality products for inferior ones, and generally feel the rules are “for the other guy.” Once again, I see similarities to golf. Those that play golf at a country club know the guy who “sandbags.” To non-golfers this means he or she reports a higher handicap then they actually have, and then miraculously seems to shoot a lifetime best in the tournaments. The more amazing part is they do it over and over. They are the same as the cheaters in business. Eventually, people will not want to play with them anymore, nor deal with the unethical businessperson. Yes, it takes time, sometimes longer than what seems fair to the honest straight-shooter, but in the long run and in “the big picture” the cheaters do lose.

For whatever reason you play golf or are in business, play by the rules, be calm, focused and learn from your mistakes without obsessing over them.