Category: Opinion


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.

 

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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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I’ve often heard the saying “Knowledge is power”, and always wondered to myself, ‘Really? What type of power is found in knowledge?’ Is it the power found in a Chevy 350 big block engine found in some of my favorite cars, is it the power to persuade a group of individuals, or is it something entirely different?

To contradict the common belief, knowledge itself, is actually not power. If knowledge was indeed power, than we would see those in academia running the world, or at the very least, running against the likes of Donald Trump for President. Instead they can often be found wearing the same sweater over and over again, as they argue using circular reason, never reaching a finite conclusion. In fact, often times knowledge has the ability to paralyze, as people are not able to function around certain concepts or ideals.

Power then, is actually derived from the process of applying knowledge within a given framework that facilitates change. If no change has taken place, than no new power has been derived or even transferred. This change can be manifest in different forms, (belief systems, functional actions, desires, etc) but without having the knowledge behind the process, there lacks a void that can never be wholly filled.

So what does this have to do with golf? Simple, without a proper knowledge and understanding of the game of golf and what it encompasses, one will never be able to demonstrate the “power” needed to become a good golfer. The power I am referring to is not the ability to hit J.B. Holmes-esque 350 yard drives, but rather the power to change your golf game for the better. There is not one perfect golf swing, or one perfect way to play the game of golf. This often frustrates people, but is also what makes the game so great!

The great golfers of every generation, from Tom Morris to Bobby Jones, from Arnie and Jack to Tiger and Phil , they all had a vast knowledge of the game and used that knowledge to play to the best of their ability.  Not any of the players I mentioned swing remotely the same, but they all are Hall-of-Famers, and they all had the knowledge that allowed them to create a process, which allowed them to play their best golf.

We should all learn something from these great golfers and that is that knowledge, when combined with a process seeking to maximize one’s strengths and minimize one’s weaknesses, is what all great golfers (and leaders) have in common. Seek knowledge, but in a way that facilitates your growth as a person and a golfer!

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Seeing Green!

 

This week, as most of you are well aware, is the week of the Masters Golf Tournament – one of the four men’s major championships and arguably the most precious title in all of golf. It also happens to be my personal favorite golf tournament, hand-down.

The opportunity to play Augusta National is afforded to a select few and rarely discussed at that. In an age of technology, much of the interworking of Augusta National is not publicized and I am sure that is just how the members want it. Yet for one

For many golf fanatics the television coverage is as close to Augusta, Georgia as they will ever come. This does not however, keep them from remaining transfixed to the television screen year after year eagerly awaiting the last nine holes on Sunday at Augusta National.

Historic Augusta

The course itself was original a nursery (Fruitland), which is quite ironic considering the immaculate shape it is kept in year round. Dr. Alistair Mackenzie was hired as the architect in 1931 and the course was the brainchild of the legendary golfer Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts. The first Masters Tournament was held in 1934 and the inaugural winner was Horton Smith. Past winners of Augusta National are a list of who’s who among golf’s elite.

Many professionals who commonly show little emotion get excited about the event and prepare diligently for the first quarter of the year in hopes of bringing their best golf abilities to Augusta. Tiger Woods routinely stated his efforts at the beginning of the year are directed specifically towards The Masters Tournament and Rory McIlroy recently said that all his focus and efforts are directly related to being prepared for this year’s Masters.

Augusta 2011

The 2011 Masters is undoubtedly going to be an exciting event and may very well be the defining moment of a player’s career. Some year’s, the event has been won by players with tremendous length (Mickelson last year, Tiger, etc) yet other years, tacticians have won – see Zach Johnson and Jose Maria-Olazabal.

I believe the winner this year will have a combination of power and a soft touch on the greens. If Hunter Mahan can avoid chip shots, and keep his ball-striking at a premium, he has a great chance of winning, as does Anthony Kim whose game has recently turned for the better. The 2011 Masters Tournament is up for grabs, and although I will not be in attendance at Augusta, I will be glued to my television in anticipation of witnessing history like so many of you.

You know my two picks, but who do you believe will be the victor come Sunday afternoon at Augusta?

 

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