I started getting involved with golf as a salesperson selling golf shares to corporate executives. This was when I took a 5-year break from full-time work in HR to deliver and raise my only child. Back then, I didn’t care about the game at all. I just cared about the money I’m making out of my sales. Suffice it to say that I was able to make some sales without touching an iron or walking the green. Fast forward twenty years and here I am trying to learn the game. What I found, however, is that my journey in learning the game is parallel to my career journey somehow.
Keeping Eye on the Ball – The problem I’m trying to connect on my swing is the tendency for the ball to veer to the right. This is because I look up prematurely to see where the ball is going. My instructor said, “Did you see the ball leave the tee? Let your upswing turn your head to where the ball is going but watch the ball leave the tee.” In your career, don’t lose sight of your goal or objective. Keep your eye on the ball. Regardless of your situation or where you’re in now in your career, have a vision and create the strategies on how to get there. Most golfers who perform well are focused on the ball in the sense that they know where they want the ball to go and have a single-minded view of that hole. Regardless how you performed in the last hole or in the last swing, each swing is a movement toward the goal. Each swing is a new movement. Focus on the swing that you are about to make now, not the previous failed ones.
The Power of Mindlessness – I have to admit that I can be a real control freak. When I’m upset about something because I did not like the results or how things are turning out, I go to the driving range to let go. What I learned effective in making my swing is not to overthink it. The more I overthink and try to control how my body will move, the worse my swing get. Once I’m all set up, I let my muscle memory take over. I know I have to let go. Metaphorically, we can only control the result of our job search or how our career is going to a lesser or greater extent. No matter how well we plan and put our strategies together, there are a lot of unpredictability and things we cannot control. Give it your best shot and let go.
Precision and Accuracy Over Power – When I learned how to swing a golf club, I thought I got it right. How complicated could it be, right? Hitting a lone ball with a golf club is so simple, a no-brainer. I went to the fairway and played. It was a disaster. It’s been a few years since then and I have not been back yet. You will find me in the driving range just hitting balls day in and day out. What I learned was this: It’s not enough to get that ball from Point A to Point B. You have to get it to Point B in one or two drives (ambitious?); otherwise, you are going to tire yourself to death. Precision and accuracy comes first before power. What’s the use of power if that drive won’t get you closer to the hole? This is why in a job search or in setting career objectives, it is quality over quantity. You don’t have to submit as many applications, just send a few ones that are strategic and targeted. You don’t have to have as many career objective, just a few ones that will get you to your envisioned future.
Knowing the Fundamentals – That simple golf swing I was talking about? It turned out that it’s not that simple anyway. There is a variety of dynamics involved in one golf swing that I can only learn and focus on one element at a time. First off, the swing happens as the core of your body turns from the correct starting point to the next 5 to 7 points until you end in the upswing. Wrong set-up, wrong posture, a minute change in sway or twist of the body on the back swing and the upswing and your hit is botched. I never knew how much dynamics of that single movement is involved in making that swing successfully. The head, the back, the arm, the core, the knees, the angles, the visual, and more, each of these contributes to that one single swing. I truly underestimated golf.
Do you have the fundamentals in your career development in place? Is your career directional or incidental? Is your growth intentional or randomly accidental? Does your work history make sense toward your end goal? Do you have some form of strategies? Do you even have an end goal?
In the scheme of things, career development, much like the game of golf, is an 18-hole challenge. It’s not about how long you learned that swing or how many miles of the fairway you have walked in trying to master the game. It’s about the lessons that you learned along the way – keeping sight of your goal, sharpening your skills, correcting your course, and just letting go to let synchronicity lead you to your end game.