Golfing, Marriage and Bad Leadership Behaviors

What do married couples playing golf together have in common with bad leadership teams? You can guess, right?

In many golf clubs, couple’s tournaments are very popular. But they can be painful. Golf can bring out the worst in married couples. I’ve even thought that if marriage counselors were smart, they’d start hanging out at couple’s tournaments; it’d be a gold mine for them.

My wife and I play together, in fact, we’re one of the few couples who actually get along on the golf course. For most couples, golfing together is not good for the relationship. It tends to bring up a lot of issues. But that’s not true for us. We just love playing together.

Now, if you’re wondering why I’m telling you all this, the title of my new book is “Do Eagles Just Wing It?” And our golf relationship offers a good window into what that title is really saying.

Winging it, to me, is about going on instinct, not really thinking about things, just flying by the seat of your pants. And that works for some people, up to a point. But it would not work for us. Here’s why.

When you’re golfing with someone, especially someone who has not been playing as long as you have, you can’t help but notice certain things about their game. Things you think they could do better.

And when you’re a coach, like I am, you also have strong desires to point those things out to them. To share with them your perspective and wisdom. And of course, this is just in the spirit of being helpful.

But there are times when people simply aren’t interested in hearing your wisdom and perspective. And golfing with your spouse is one of those times.

So, if I took the approach of just winging it and following my instincts, our lives would be quite different. We’d probably end up arguing like all those other couples, not enjoying playing together like we do. And that would be a real loss because we really enjoy playing the game together. In other words, our success as a couple depends on me approaching that in a very intentional way.

And the point is, the same thing is true for success in any area. It’s not just golf or relationships – it’s everything. No matter what area you’re thinking of, or how you define success, winging it will not get you there.

As a leader or a team member, you can’t just fly by the seat of your pants. Nor can you assume everyone wants your advice.

What does it really take to be successful in our lives, to have the careers and relationships and the teams we dream of?

From what I’ve seen, I believe success requires four fundamental things: Clarity, Intention, Attention, and Focus. That’s true for marriage, for golf, and for leadership. That’s the formula. That’s what my co-authors and I share in the book “Do Eagles Just Wing It?” I invite you to find out more about the book and read a chapter here.

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