I’ve always been an average golfer using my father’s hand-me-down clubs and, I didn’t spend much time golfing due to lack of commitment. As a business executive, I spent most of my golfing career playing charity golf with clients where individual performance wasn’t important. As a result, my game didn’t improve much over the years, but for the same reasons, I learned a lot about divots!
Divots are small pieces of turf, which are sliced from the fairway when a golfer cuts the club too deeply under the ball often sending the turf further down the fairway than the ball – quite embarrassing! Divots may occur anywhere in the game but they typically happen closer to the green because the golfer selects a club, usually an iron, to get under the ball and lift the ball close to the pin. As a result of my short clubs, and amateur ability, I created many divots and became friends with the importance of their repair.
I learned how to interrupt my game, walk forward to the divot, pick it up, and walk back to the wound, replacing it by tamping it down with my foot. Other learning included that this must be done as soon as possible because turf will dry out, hindering it’s healing. And, when possible, the divot should receive attention by watering and nutrients to guarantee success. Replacing divots is important because restoration of the fairway to the condition prior to the divot benefits other golfers.
Although it’s a simple act of courtesy, many golfers don’t replace their divots. Why? Replacing divots takes time. Golfers are close to the pin, called the short game, and they may be focused on finishing the hole rather than the longer game. Replacing divots may be thought of as a diversion from the longer game. It takes effort. It requires moving backward and the game is about moving forward. Handling possible wet and muddy turf may be messy. And, the golfer may believe no one had noticed so why draw attention to the mistake?
Replacing divots provides great learning for the importance of repair of life and business relationships. As a Life and Business Coach, one of my favorite questions for business clients, who are often avid golfers, is, “Where else is not replacing divots happening in your life?” Clients may ponder how often they have failed to take time to heal a social or business wound.
For me, repair of social or business transgressions is critically important. I start with the premise that someone did notice the social divot. Unlike the fairway, business people are paid to notice and it will serve their career to observe and benefit from their learning. And, more importantly, repair of social relationships is the right thing to do for yourself as a player in the business game because timely fixing of your mistakes allows you to move forward without holding defensive energy. For others, similar to the fairway, those who will play beside you in a business relationship will benefit from removing obstacles from their game.
Also similar to the fairway, repair of our transgressions with others takes timely action. Rather than thinking, Oh, I have a meeting with Bob next week, I’ll bring it up then or I’ll send him an email, it may serve you to take action now. By making the effort to get out of what you are doing in the moment (your short game) and walking backward in time to Bob’s office you will improve your overall game. If you are fortunate and Bob is able to see you, and you are able to replace the divot and feed a repair the wound with your watering of concern and attention you will strengthen your game. Yes, it may be messy and your hands may get dirty, but by recognizing how short term actions may benefit the long- term game, you will model leadership behaviors you may desire in others and in yourself.
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Richard Wilberg, MS, PLCC, ACC
Life Coach for Personal Fulfillment and Career Success
About the Author
Richard Wilberg is a coach, musician, photographer, and former business leader who lives in Madison, Wisconsin.