Finding Balance on the Golf Course of Life
I am sitting on a plane while typing this, remarking at my unbelievably poor (even for me) showing in an annual golf trip amongst old friends. It was a three-day tournament. I played below average (for me) on the first two days, but not remarkably poor. After our second day of golf, we rented a boat and enjoyed some time on a lake. It was incredibly hot, so the real comfort was found floating next to the boat. And unfortunately for me, when we left the lake, I took a little bit of the lake with me…in my left ear. I’m sure we’ve all had the sensation of water in the ear. You can shake and tap and with a little time, it pops and goes away. Not for me. Not this time.
The third day of the tournament came the next day with the ultimate in golf pressure: singles match play. And the water in my left ear had me lacking hearing, lacking comfort and sounding (to me) like I was talking in a tunnel. Given my first two days of poor performance, it’s not surprising that I followed those up with a doozy. 10 holes of golf were played. I tied one of them, lost nine of them and called it a day just when all the other matches were getting interesting. I became a spectator, which afforded me time for introspection on my game, and creative time to think about the analogies of my plight in this third day of golf compared with life at Kenway Consulting, with our employees and with our clients.
Many philosophies and cultures espouse the importance of balance. Regularly, the symbol of yin and yang is used to depict balance. We balance the head and the heart. We seek balance of risk and reward. And yes, in basic matters of health, we seek literal balance of our inner ears.
Optimized teams are not ones in which all people think of things the same way. Optimized teams have members that bring contrarian views, devil’s advocates and alternative ways to approach problem solving. While some people tend to focus on the benefits of implementing a particular option, others may be wired to focus on the risks associated with the same option. While some may tend to think “outside the box”, others may tend to take the road most traveled. These differences are not a bad thing. In fact, they are best practices to ensure balance of opinion and optimized decision making.
At Kenway, we often discuss optimal staffing, i.e. the resource mix necessary to bring the right skills at the right time in the right volume for the right duration. When we do this well, we apply more than just a skills matrix to determine the ‘who’ and the ‘when’. We seek balance of thought to optimize decision-making.
After that third round of golf, I made a trip to a CVS Minute Clinic, and had my ear flushed. When the sensation of a clear ear suddenly popped and clarity of hearing was upon me, I was elated. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. I found balance, and it felt amazing. I don’t know if my return to full hearing will improve my golf game. In fact, I doubt it will. But it certainly improved my morale, and no bad game of golf will take that away. But I must admit, I’m kind of anxious to swing the clubs again sometime soon. And with my positive attitude which comes from balance, it can only go up from here.