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10 tips inspired by Arnold Palmer to get where you need to go


            Aspire to Excellence. Nobody ever became great by settling for average, middle-of-the-pack, “gentleman’s C.” Always strive to be the best you can be. Sounds like Arnie and his Army. If someone is not continually working to improve, he can’t expect to be competitive.

            Have a Vision. As the saying goes, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” If you are one of those golfers who plays regularly, but can’t seem to take your game to a higher level, then set some specific goals, write them down and make a logical plan.

            Choose Wisely. Golf is all about decisions. Choices. From picking the right club for the right shot, to choosing the line and speed of your putt. Golfers falter since they haven’t learned the details of decision-making; sometimes, they are too impulsive, leading to bad consequences.

            Play to Win. That’s Arnie all the way – and I agree, with a certain measure of caution. I’m not a riverboat gambler or hustler when it comes to golf. I have a lot of pride, so I’d rather play masterfully and bravely, and lose, than play like a chop with fake strokes and win money. It’s probably from my experience in the ‘80’s as a retail entrepreneur, refusing to fail – and I didn’t.

            Avoid Hazards. In a manner similar to the avoid-losing strategy, staying away from hazards (now “penalty areas”) seems to be a key success in all sports, not just on the golf course. In sports, there are penalties, fouls, obstacles, misfortunes, accidents and rules infractions of all sorts. Just as in life. On the golf course, bunkers, boundaries, streams and lakes are often positioned in spots that attract over-zealous folks, the unprepared, unthinking and unaware.

            Play by the Rules. It’s an unfortunate reality but most golfers don’t know a lot about the rules of golf. Serious golfers usually do, but most golfers aren’t serious or studious players. One thing I like about golf is that the rules have very little bend (but some) in them. And the rules can sometimes work in your favor, just as in life. Go online for rules or get a USGA Rule Book.

            Become Mentally Tough. There is no other characteristic of successful people that is more shared between business leaders and sports winners than mental toughness. That’s because the challenges are so similar in terms of emotions. Being tough mentally isn’t simply a matter of never choking or never getting nervous or never losing your cool. No. You become stronger from within as you learn to become emotionally resilient. On the golf course and in organizations and on sales calls, bad breaks happen, things turn sour and it seems like the cards (and world) are stacked against you. How we respond to setbacks and adversity defines how genuinely strong we are.

            Attend Closely to Details. The one thing I have noticed about people who are expert in what they do is that they pay attention to myriad details. I don’t care if we’re talking about musicians, architects, surgeons or golfers. Brilliant leaders in their fields sharpen their understanding of their work every hour of every day. Tiger Woods is a great example, not just as he was winning 82 tournaments and 15 majors, but also as a youth winning all those amateurs.

            Maintain a Positive Attitude. One of the all-time, most popular and most powerful books ever written is Dr. Norman Vincent Peale’s “The Power of Positive Thinking,” which posited that what we reap in reality is proportionate to what we sow mentally. Do you like working with negative whiners? Do you like playing golf with angry, grouchy folks who trudge around all 18 holes with bad vibes? If you want to play good golf, think positive; think possibilities.

            Get Professional Help. No one in this world can go it alone. If you want to get ahead, whether in sports or in business, you need a team – you need a number of reliable people supporting and assisting you. That’s what an executive coach does. For us golfers, it’s about recognizing that we need feedback and coaching with our golf swing, knowledge and our game.

Dr. Charlie Blanchard is a licensed psychologist specializing in sports and leadership. Contact him at docblanchard71@gmail.com.