4 Important Business (& Life) Lessons from the Links

4 Important Business (& Life) Lessons from the Links photo
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As I reflect on the year that was 2019, I’m reminded of some business lessons I recognized in a surprising place…

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to head to Scotland and play some of the oldest and most famous golf courses in the world.

It was an amazing trip, but that’s not what I’m focusing on today.

What struck me is how much the game – especially true links golf ­– parallels business… And there are REAL lessons to be learned from it.

Today I’m sharing four important “lessons from the links” that have less to do with golf than they do your mindset and approach to business.

Ready? Let’s start…

Lessons from the Links, No. 1: Things Might Go Wrong. Deal with It.

Quick backstory for those unaware… Here in the U.S., most of our golf courses strive to be manicured to perfection, but links golf in Scotland is often played on much more unpredictable terrain with scruffy imperfections, bumps and knobs coming into play. This can lead to some, ahem, interesting circumstances.

Let’s say you hit what seems like the perfect shot, but it lands and takes a weird bounce in the wrong direction.

Now what?

Some golfers get frustrated, get mad, start blaming the ground for a “bad bounce” – and by doing so, suddenly they’re compounding the problem by being in their head when they should be focusing on their next shot.

The more you maintain your composure and deal with the reality of the situation instead of the story you’re telling yourself, the better you’ll perform moving forward.

So… What’s the business equivalent of this?


There are going to be times when you seemingly do everything right… but a transaction still goes sideways. Or it goes completely off the rails. Or a client gets mad even though it’s not your fault.

Sound familiar?

How do you handle it?

Do you let it eat you up inside? Or do you calmly accept it, re-assess the situation and find a solution?

As soon as you learn to embrace those weird bounces in both golf and business, you’ll enjoy yourself so much more and look at that “next shot” as a fun challenge, not some vendetta out to get you. It’ll make you better and bring greater fulfillment to your success.

Remember: It’s not the situation. It’s how you react to it that matters.

Lessons from the Links, No. 2: Always Operate from a Strategic Plan

You might think that if the object of golf is to get the ball in the hole in as few strokes as possible, it makes sense to hit every shot directly at the hole.

That’s not actually the case.

One of the beautiful nuances of the game is that some holes give you an advantage by playing from a certain direction. Also, golf holes are full of obstacles ­– they actually call them “hazards” – you want to avoid.

Believe me… On my trip this year, I found far too many score-killing bunkers, and next time I would opt to play some safer shots to avoid those dangerous hazards.

So what’s the business lesson on this one?

The more strategic you can be in your planning and execution, the more successful you’re going to be. Also, a straight line isn’t always the most effective route to reach your ultimate destination.

Before your next transaction, what if you sat down and mapped out how you’re going to avoid all the potential pitfalls along the way? I bet that you’d streamline the process simply by reminding yourself of what NOT to do.

Don’t just start taking action. Create a plan, follow it, and adjust accordingly along the way.

Lessons from the Links, No. 3: Get Creative when Solving Problems

Many golfers love visiting “the home of golf” because one of the great aspects of links golf is that it gives you options… a variety of ways to play a certain shot. You might choose to “chip” or “putt” your ball along the ground, following the contours of the land. Or you might choose to hit it high up in the air and land it right next to the pin.

Either way works, and having options makes the game all that more fun – and more fulfilling when you properly execute a shot.

What’s the business equivalent here?

Get creative!

Don’t feel obligated to do something a certain way just because that’s how everyone else does it. When faced with a challenge, look at it from different angles and ask yourself “What are all my options here?” before taking action.

Sometimes getting creative and doing things “your way” will be the most effective route to success. And your clients will appreciate your ingenuity, too!

Lessons from the Links, No. 4: Learn from Your Mistakes

When people ask what I enjoy about golf, there are many possible answers: The friendships and camaraderie, the beautiful scenery, the storied history of the game…

But above all, let’s get real… It’s the competition. And not even so much with others as battling YOU vs. YOU against yourself. Every time you play golf, there’s a possibility of beating your personal best.

But that only happens if both your physical and mental abilities perform at a high level on the same day.

The first time you play a hole, you might not fully understand the best way to approach it.

But you learn.

You make mistakes, you adjust, you improve and you create better results.

The same is obviously true in business, right?

I certainly hope you’re not making the same mistakes over and over again with clients.

With each transaction, you have a chance to learn what TO DO and what NOT to do.

I hope you’re paying attention and learning from your mistakes.

Don’t rely on your memory. I’d suggest making notes or journaling at the end of each transaction to document what worked, what didn’t, and what else you learned. The physical act of writing these things down will ingrain them deeper in your brain for next time.
So that’s it… Yes, it was an amazing golf trip. AND it was a whole lot more. I hope these lessons resonated with you. Please leave me a comment if you liked this blog and let me know which ideas you need to work on most!

Tom Ferry - Success Summit



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