I started playing golf at six-years-old. My swing was awkward, and I was far from a Woods-like prodigy, but I wouldn't trade anything for those weekends on the links with my Dad. I loved the smell of freshly cut grass, the way it felt crunching under my shoes, the calming sound of birds chirping from the oaks that lined the fairways, the deer that would peer at us quizzically as we lugged our bags up and down the course. Those are some of the best memories I have from my youth.
I was so passionate about the game that I practiced every chance I got, and ended up becoming a co-captain on the high school team. And although these days I no longer play as often as I once did, golf is a game that has been with me my whole life. Golf is a game that has helped me balance my life, bring me closer to nature, and ultimately, be more successful. Here's why I'll never put down my clubs.
1. Visualize Success: I try to play once a week, rotating from a handful of local courses. Brookside in Pasadena, Rancho Park in West L.A., Roosevelt by Griffith Park, sometimes a friend invites me to one of our city's ritzy country clubs. But no matter where I'm at, the chance to be alone with a club in my hand gives me the chance to visualize success. When you can picture your goal, and then achieve it, it's the greatest feeling in the world. And it's an act that's extremely good practice for achievement in any medium. And it's also a reality check. In business, like golf, we often want something very badly. But sometimes we don't get it. So, what do you do? Do you get mad and beat yourself up, or do you get past it and move on? If you want to be successful, it's a no-brainer. Golf teaches the patience that allows people to look past their shortcomings, because nobody ever hits as well as they'd like to--and that means they have to adjust and find other ways to get what they want.
2. Practice Focus And Patience: I've played in Myrtle Beach where alligators eyeball you as you prepare to chip onto the green; I've been in Arizona when air force fighters have zipped overhead while I'm in mid-swing. This is a game of distractions. Golf forces you to have immense patience, and teaches how to fight distractions. The only way to focus on the task at hand is by having focus and patience, an invaluable tool that I believe has helped me mature faster as an entrepreneur. When you're starting a company, there's nothing but distractions. Everything is a distraction, because in the beginning, you're doing almost everything yourself. But the only way to really fight that distraction is to put out one fire at a time. You can't be everywhere at once, and you have to have to focus on every task you're doing in order to complete it properly.
3. Get Over It: Failure + Success: When you play with people who are better than you, their skill rubs off on you. Why? Because now you've seen success, right in front of your eyes. That visual is a real confidence booster. You can do that, you think, because you can. And often, you have no choice, because playing with people who are better than you often means they get on the green way before you. So in order to not irritate your friends, you have to get over your weakness, visualize the positive, and find a way to innovate. When I really want to make a shot, I work off of a rewards system, telling myself "if I hit this ball the way that I want, then I get this reward." That means a massage, a nice dinner, something I want to do. Working off of incentives is a great motivator, and a fantastic way to bridge the talent gap and achieve success.
4. Walking Boosts Creativity: The average 18-hole round is 18,000 steps, or around 6 miles. That's a lot of time to think, a lot of alone time. Being outdoors helps me connect with nature. If you hit a bad shot and you're suddenly under a tree, well, now you're under a tree, one of mother earth's finest creations--not such a bad place to be, and a place that comes with unexpected surprises. Because now you have to figure out how you're going to get out of this place. Necessity is truly the mother of invention, and some of my best thoughts have come on the golf course. It's almost like a meditative state for me. Grip hard, but swing easy. I love this game.