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Leadership lessons from golf: The game is a beast but …

(First appeared in WRAL TechWire.)

Okay, here’s the deal. My friend and Oh, Lords! co-author, Terresa Zimmerman is a force! She’s the founder and CEO of a men’s underwear company called Wood (it’s okay to laugh) and co-founder of Sayhii a company that activates people in the workplace with purpose. She’s also a helluva golfer.

Recently, she invited me to be her ‘guest’ at a two-day, member-guest tournament held over the weekend. When she asked, I said, “Girl, you know I only look the part, right? I have the clubs, the golf shoes and the cute skirts, but my golf game is garbage.” She assured me I’d be fine and we’d have a good time.

Listen, I’m no dummy. I know golf is a beast. It’s a game that can tear you down and build you up in one stroke. If I was going to make it out alive, I would have to focus on three things: my attitude, my coachability and the beverage cart.

Result: not only did I survive, we had a ball (pun intended). Here are a few of my takeaways.

1. Give yourself time to settle in.
Honestly, during that first hour, I thought about myself way too much. I talked through my anxiety every chance I got and talked down to myself to set the bar low. Geesh!

By the fourth hole I began to settle in, I found my center and started to enjoy my teammates and the beautiful course I was playing on.

I could have easily let the noise in my head overtake the moment. But a little pressure and stress is normal. Muddling through to the other side of those feelings is also normal.

The lesson: If you’re feeling a little out of your element, be patient and get present. Trust yourself. The act of slowing down can fuel clarity instead of chaos.

2. Let someone line you up.
I have a secret. I’m a pretty solid driver off the tee. If I’m going to shine on the course, it’s probably at the tee box. This is also the place golfers will tell you to hit the ball ‘long and straight.’

I hit long…but rarely straight.

The trouble is, I have a hard time finding my focal point. The ball inevitably ends up in the trees or on a neighboring fairway – which can get a little frustrating. Luckily my team saw what I couldn’t and they took turns lining me up properly. By the end of the second day, I was able to step up to the tee box and line myself up with little adjustment.


The lesson: Know thyself. You’ve got to know your strengths and your weaknesses…and be willing to acknowledge both. Be coachable and let others line you up if that’s what it takes to hit long and straight.

3. Play your own game.
Last weekend, I was reminded that we’re all playing our own game – not someone else’s. Testing limits and stretching our potential is what life is about.

The lesson: After two days, I left with the assurance that I can still do seemingly hard things and…frankly that’s the good stuff.

That said, I have a golf lesson lined up in two weeks… watch out member/guest tourney 2023, I’m coming for ya!


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