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Living without Regret

 

After much discussion with my family, friends, employer, and the dean of the business school, I decided to take a leave of absence from graduate school this past semester. I was presented the unique opportunity of helping a close friend manage his business dealings, and attempted to help him prepare for his rookie year on the Nationwide Tour.

Having only 3 classes left before completing my MBA, I initially desired to finish school, before taking on a new challenge. Yet, after unanimous support from those that matter the most to me, I decided to set aside my books for at least the next 8 months and embrace a new opportunity. Needless to say, the past 10 weeks have been a whirlwind and I have received an education in life that no book or course could ever deliver.

Over the past 3 months, I have spent weeks in Reno, San Francisco, San Diego, Pheonix, Bogota (Colombia not N.J.), Panama City, (Panama, not Florida) and Santiago, Chile. I have met a plethora of people I hope to remember, a few I would like to forget, and have memories etched that will last a lifetime.

I have experienced a steep learning curve throughout my business dealings over the past few months and a common theme that keeps arising is the idea of living without regret. Regret is an interesting concept that is often defined as a form of sadness, disappointment, grief, etc. However, all these definitions assume a perspective of victim. As opposed to dwelling on the negative of situations , why not focus on what can be learned from the sad, disappointing (e.g. regret) aspects of a given situation? I strive to live a life without regret, and here are 3 principles that I often find myself revisiting often.

Stay True to Yourself

Circumstances come and go, as do people, but you are always stuck with yourself – there is no escaping you. People always have to live with the decisions they personally make, so be sure to be confident of the decisions you are making and how you are living, regardless of what others may say or think of you.

Prioritize

This is closely related to staying true to yourself. It is important to know what you want out of life and what you are willing to do to accomplish your goals. At times people might find themselves compromising to fit in, or obtain some form of status, only to realize they were living out what others wanted or wanted for them, and were not staying true to themselves and their own goals.

Learn

I am not without a few regrets in my life, but I am sure I would have many more if I had not been humbled to learn and grow from difficult and challenging situations. No person is perfect, and it is our responsibility to grow and learn the challenges in our lives. As George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. We must remember tough situations, but only enough to learn from them.

 

 


It’s been a while since I have blogged, but after watching the Tour Championship, I have been inspired to resume my blogging habits.

Golf for all intensive purposes, is a rather boring and mundane sport to watch. It is by no means fast paced, as most rounds last 4 ½ hours plus, and if you are playing on one of the various professionals tours around the world, rounds can last even longer! Players are not leveling each other on the playing field, throwing down miraculous dunks, or bicycling in goals from a great cross from the far corner.

However, the playoff between Hunter Mahan and Bill Haas for both the Tour Championship and the Fed-Ex Cup was quite exciting to watch. Both players had a lot on the line. Haas, seeking a captain’s pick for the President’s Cup had a dismal 0-3 record in previous playoffs lacked the resume of a proficient closer. Mahan, winless all year, was seeking that elusive victory, at what is often coined the Tour’s 5th major.  Oh yeah, did I mention there was the $10 Million Fed-Ex Cup on the line?

On the second playoff hole, Bill Haas decided to play dirty. After hitting his ball in the water left of the 17th green, Haas slashed and splashed his ball an astonishing three feet from the hole. This proverbial low-blow to Hunter Mahan let Mahan and everyone else know that fate may very well be on the side of Haas. The next hole was all that was needed for Haas to claim both the Tour Championship and the Fed-Ex Cup. Astonishingly, at first Haas did not realize he won the Fed-Ex Cup as well. I’m not sure how you could not know you were playing for $10 million, but that is topic for another post.

Bill Haas’ victory put him over the $14 million dollar mark in earnings for 2011, only a few hundred thousand less than his father’s career earnings on the PGA Tour that spanned over 30 years and nearly 600 made cuts on the PGA Tour.

With the demise of Tiger Woods and the strong showings by Europeans in the majors, Bill Haas might be one of the best things going in American golf. I hope he puts the money into a bank account and does not let it go straight to his brain. With a little hard work and proper focus, he may be the best America has to offer.

 

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Taming a Tiger

With all the hoopla around every aspect of Tiger Woods’ life, I can’t help but wonder when his substandard-Tiger (see 2000 domination) performances will overshadow the rest of his life and people will focus on the next generation of rising golfers? For the past decade the PGA Tour and golf in general has lived on the shoulders of one man, befitting a man named Tiger, but his stock, like the majority of the economy, is still overvalued.

Tiger’s revenue generation and golf accomplishments have been amazing over the past 15 years, yet the golden boy of golf has lost much of his swagger both on and off the golf course. The love affair that the PGA Tour and the entire golf world has had with Tiger is slowly dissipating. Yet, without the presence of a fresh, dominating force on Tour, the golfing community is left living in the past. Like the ex-girlfriend or boyfriend who kept providing glimpses of hope, only to be continually let the other down again, so too is the tale of this Tiger.

Regardless of his personal choices and decisions outside of golf, his talent and ability on the golf course is truly impressive. For the sake of his own life and those who are closely related, I hope he is able to figure things out quickly, both on and off the golf course.

As far as his game goes, I can’t help but wonder what type of advice his father would give him at this stage? I believe Earl would have stated something similar to that of Bubba Watson. Tiger knows his swing, and needs to get back to playing the game of golf and be creative with his shot selection. Although Watson took a tremendous amount of slack regarding his comments to Tiger, I believe he stated what many believed, but were afraid to say.

Tiger is looking for an external fix for his game and his life, when in reality the answers, actions and decisions that must be made need to come from within. Let this be a reminder and lesson to us all – the search for solutions will always continue, until we realize that the answers lie within.

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Today, a student approached me and shared a story with me regarding something he witnessed on the driving range earlier at another golf course. There, the golf instructor was giving a lesson to a young lady who seemed to be just picking up the game. My student discussed how he could tell the lady was somewhat new to golf, and had many questions about the fundamentals of golf. The professional, apparently having a prior agenda for this student, wasn’t even answering her questions and was having her practice motions she didn’t seem comfortable with making. Little explanation was given and she seemed displaced and clueless.

Although this professional is a good player, this does not necessarily mean that he is a good instructor. Playing the game and teaching are two different worlds within the game of golf and that must be remembered when both giving and receiving instruction. Just because someone is a great player does not automatically make them a great instructor, and just because someone isn’t a phenomenal player, doesn’t mean they cannot be an outstanding golf instructor.

When a lesson is being taught or received, here are three key-elements that must be evident

1. Proper Communication

Good communication is a foundational block of all relationships, be it parent-child, husband-wife, or student teacher. An instructor needs to choose their words extremely carefully to communicate precisely what they wish, and the student needs to communicate honestly and verify a certain level of acknowledgment and understanding. If there is not proper understanding, improvement will be achieved solely on a combination of luck and trail-by-error.

2. Simplicity

Golf can be very detailed and it can be extremely basic. Simplicity is a term that spans not just a way of communication, but also the process that is built through hours and hours of practice. Information can be conveyed in a simple, thorough manner. Goals can be outlined in a simple manner. Frustrations and concerned can be explained by their most basic elements. Golf information can be a bit overwhelming, be it swing dynamics, club fittings, or mental approaches and the more clear-cut the information can be explained, the better off all parties will be.

3. Create Solutions

Notice I did not use the word “fixes”. Some golf professionals will provide “band-aids” to swing flaws and never address the root of the problem. This “quick-fix” may work in the short-term, but by never addressing the root of the problem, the player will only be able to reach a certain playing ability before the “band-aid” falls off and they are left searching for more answers. Solve the root of the issue, and this will pay great dividends in the long run.

If you are a golf professional, be sure to keep these methods in your mind when you are seeking a golf instructor, be sure to find a professional who exemplifies these key traits.

What other areas are imperative to a successful lesson? Please share stories, thoughts, or suggestions.

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Although putting is often viewed as the least glamorous aspect of the game of golf, it is where the majority of shot are taken by the vast majority of players. Understanding the important role putting plays in lowering scores requires adequate dedication to what makes someone a good putter. Here are three tenants that all good putters follow, and if you aren’t in their league yet, here is a great place to start.

  1. Know your Stroke

Do you prefer to putt straight-back straight-through, inside-square-inside, inside-square-square, or Billy Mayfair (the last not being a suggestion for anyone other than the man himself). Understanding your desired putting method will go a long way to help you find success on the green.

  1. Know your Putter

Are you putting with a heel shafted putter, face-balanced mallet, or something in between. Depending on the method of stroke you wish to use, certain putters are weighted to be used in certain fashions, so understanding your method as well as the technology found in putters is imperative to being consistent with the flat-stick.

  1. Practice, Practice, Practice

Many players love to go practice at the range, but they spend the majority of their time slashing at drivers and trying to hit the range picker, than spending quality time on their short game and putting. If you want to be good at putting, just like anything else, it requires focus, attention to detail, and a substantial amount of practice. Practicing putting is one of the fastest ways to lower your scores, especially if you are just starting out with the game.

Find a method, find a putter, find the practice green and you will see results that will impress even the longest hitters in your group!

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“Here comes the putter throw…” Oh how things might have been different for Alex Cejka if he had taken this advice. Instead he opted for the club slam and subsequent WD from a severe foot injury. Cejk Please! Although golf is a game that is generally well-respected and believed to be played by people who value character and sportsmanship, this does not protect the game against those who have a momentary lapse in judgment and do something incredibly stupid – Enter German, PGA Tour professional Alex Cejka.

Cejka, not playing particularly well during the second round of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, and battling some serious anger issues, slammed his golf club into the ground out of disgust. Unfortunately for him, before the club was able to strike the ground, it smashed a hole in his shoe and ended up breaking one of his toes. Cejka, admirable for not quitting, added insult to injury and carded a 2-over 74 before withdrawing from play yesterday afternoon.

Believe it or not, there are a multitude of golf professionals who have injured themselves in very unique ways, primarily out of anger. Woody Austin is notorious for anger as well as putting woes and this was highlighted when he infamously broke his putter over his head.

Needless to say, anger issues on the golf course are prevalent whether you are playing a two-dollar Nassau with your buddies, or if you are on the world’s largest stage playing for millions of dollars.

How anger is handled, will greatly affect a person’s ability to compete and the level of success they are able to achieve. We all need to take a look at our actions and make sure that we handle our anger properly. Take some time to sit down and reflect on how your anger affects you overall and your playing ability. I’m sure Cejka will be sitting down as well and hopefully pondering the same question!

How do you deal with your anger and what suggestions do you have that may assist others?

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Stop Trying and Just Do it!

I am fortunate to currently be in San Diego, staying with some good friends as I am working on a business venture. When we got up this morning and checked the surf (for those of you still with snow in your yard, this means we looked at the weather and wave patterns in La Jolla,) my friends decided that the morning must be spent at the beach.

As I watched in awe as my good friend rode wave, after barreling wave, I could not help but notice the ease at which he was able to ride, especially compared to everyone else in the water. In an arena where most people fight over the good waves, surfers were making way for my buddy to hit his lines cleanly. It was truly an awesome experience to witness.

On our way back home after the morning beach session concluded, we started talking about his ability to simply react on the water, while others seemed to constantly be fighting the waves or were really “trying” to do well. What came “natural” to my friend, was a far off dream to many others in the water. Did I forget to mention that he has been surfing for 20+ years and grew up 10 minutes from the beach?  Fact noted.

The more we talked, the more I realized that what made him an excellent surfer, is similar to what makes a person an excellent golfer – the ability to simply react and not think.

For golfers, as soon as we start thinking about shots, doubts often creep into our thinking, and those doubts turn into some level of fear or anxiety. However, if you simply react to a situation that is presented, there is little time for doubt to manifest itself in the form of fear.

People practice anything, be it music, athletics, public speaking, writing in an effort to be able to perform at an extremely high level. I believe the level that someone is able to perform is directly related to their ability to let their bodies react and move freely based on what it has already practiced for hours and hours on end.

If you are not reaching a level of achievement that you believe you are capable of, stop thinking about what you need to do to become better and just do it!

Any thoughts, beliefs, or opinions as to how best maximize one’s efforts and get the most out their ability? Please share your thoughts with me below.

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This blog is not dedicated to the infamous flop…shot. Although it is playoff season right now in the NBA and one might think this blog is dedicated to the likes of Vlade Divac, Manu Ginobili, or Robert Horry (and could be rightfully so), this blog is hopefully going to help you hit the (rarely) required, but very enjoyable flop shot.

The flop shot scares many players as it requires a large swing to move the ball a relatively small distance. However, if you can remember to keep these 3 simple pieces of advice in your mind before you hit your flop shot, you will have a much better chance of hitting a quality golf shot that lands closed to the pin, and manages to stay outside the parking lot.

  1. Don’t Scoop!

Nearly everyone today carries a 58* or 60* wedge, or at worst case scenario a 56* wedge. These wedges already have a tremendous amount of loft on them already and by opening up the face to the target you are adding even more loft. Because of the extreme loft, you need to make sure you strike the ball with a downward blow and do not try to scoop the ball or lift it up into the air.

  1. Less is More!

Be sure you don’t use a wedge with a lot of bounce for a flop shot, as you need the sole of the club to slide through the ground. If your wedge has a lot of bounce and the sole has not been grounded down at all, the bounce will often make the club literally “bounce” off the ground making the flop shot extreme challenging and requires perfect timing.

  1. Open Up

When taking your stance, be sure to have the ball slightly forward of center in your stance and open up your stance so your feet are roughly 30* open to your target line. Be sure to swing along the line of your feet as well. By opening your stance and swinging along the line of your feet, you are able to “cut-across” the golf ball, adding spin and allowing you to hold the face open longer.

Remember, the flop shot is a great asset to a golfer’s arsenal of shots, but one must practice and be sure to have the right approach for the given shot at hand. Unlike Manu, don’t fake it and be sure to warn your playing partners if you attempt it without much practice!

Different techniques or suggestions for hitting the flop-shot? Let me know!

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I was reminded in a recent lesson that helping one understand the roots of their golf mistakes/compensations, is extremely important to the student’s ability to grow and develop their golf skills further. My student who has improved rapidly, has great golf ability, with little knowledge behind him. His game is not bogged down by theories or swing thoughts, rather a do-as-I’m-told mentality. Which, for a teacher is great, as the student is often able to improve rapidly, but one must be careful to make sure the student has ample knowledge to self-reflect and try to solve problems that may come up during a given round.

One of the most common mistakes made by golfers is in understanding the reasons behind why a ball curves a certain way. There are two distinct areas that affect the ball-flight of the golf ball, and those are the angle/position of the face, and the swing path.

A simple explanation of a golf balls flight is that wherever the ball starts is  based on the initial swing path of the club, and wherever the ball curves is the angle of face. There are extreme circumstances where the angle of the face is so severe, that the path does not have as much an impact as one would originally believe, but usually, the club path determines the initial starting flight of the ball, with the face angle resulting in the ending position of the golf ball.

And why is this so important? Understanding why your balls curves the way it does tell you much about your golf swing and what areas you may need to improve in. If you grew up in the Midwest or Nevada, players can get away with hitting 30-yard hooks or slices, but that game does not transfer well to many courses in the Bay Area, or traditional, tree-lined golf courses.

Being able to start the golf ball on an intended line is imperative to being a successful golfer. Study your ball-flight, and work to make the face square and swing on plane. Remember, the ball doesn’t lie!

Any thoughts or suggestions on how to improve swing path or work on ball flight? I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments.

Let’s face it, in society today, conflict is occurring more than ever. Freedom of speech is being expressed extensively on street corners, viewed on the television screen, and blogged across the internet. With the economic downturn, businesses are on edge, consumers are more demanding and everyone is fearful of what is to come next.

This heightened tension combined with extensive vocal expression of beliefs often leads to conflict. How we address these times of conflict may very well determine the level of success we are able to achieve throughout our lifetime.

Given the fact that times are changing, so too shouldn’t our approach to handling conflict? Some of you may very well be aware of these techniques, but to others, these concepts may be the paradigm shifted needed to achieve far greater success.

  1. Seek First to Understand, then to be Understood

Pride allows us to assume that what we perceive others to believe, we assume as fact. We base all our decisions on often unfounded (and generally wrong) beliefs, and are surprised when there is a disconnect and a problem arises. If you are able to accurately understand the others desires, you may very well find a mutually acceptable outcome for both parties.

  1. Sacrifice can be Valued on what is Given, Compared to what is Potentially Gained

“One man’s junk is another man’s treasure” sounds a bit archaic, but is absolutely still valid in society. By finding out how important certain concessions are to your opponent, you may be able to sacrifice what is a nominal component in your operation, yet that may be the golden, missing piece that has a monumental impact for your counterpart.  Remember, making a sacrifice does not mean you are losing or are weak, it means you are playing strategically.

  1. Check Your Ego at the Door

Many conflicts are not resolved, because in reality, the issues that appear on the table are not really the issues at all. The issues have a deeper undercurrent that is fundamentally based in a “winners” mentality and that one must “win” at the expense of another. If egos are removed, and the true issues are dealt with, there is a much higher likelihood that the conflict will be resolved, and it will be resolved in a quick, and hopefully peaceful manner.

Conflicts take on a variety of forms and degrees, but if one can have a thorough and proper understanding of the situation, they will be in a much better position to solve the issues at hand. Remember, don’t be afraid to take an unconventional approach in order to achieve greater success. Those who master this technique not only think outside the box, they are invisible to its shape.

What are other suggestions for managing conflicts in hopes of solving them in an efficient manner? I’d love to hear about unique ways people have found to solve conflicts.

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