I’m quite lucky, I have the profound honor of having Roy Parfitt as my father. His career was steeped in the early days of Silicon Valley in the 70’s where his ideas on how to respectfully treat employees revolutionized Human Resources. He is now retired, or as he likes to say “keeping my options open” and nowadays you can find him enjoying a hearty round of golf in Gig Harbor, WA or Sun Lakes, AZ almost any day of the week. We recently spoke about how he views the game of golf and he shared some similarities with the “game” of one’s career.
As the Director and VP of Human Resource departments in various semi-conductor businesses in the Valley, he provided guidance, coaching and mentor-ship to a plethora of people. As an Executive Recruiter he provided similar counseling to people in the midst of career transitions. My dad knows people, careers and how best to marry the two into extraordinary partnerships. Growing up I received a dinner-table education from my father that has provided me the opportunity to follow, in some ways, in his footsteps of making a difference for people and their professions.
“I had read an article when I was younger that a person’s golf game peaks at age 42,” confessed my father.
“And I decided I wasn’t going to play by those rules.”
And he hasn’t. Since keeping his options open has become his full time occupation, Dad has lowered his handicap and his score winning many tournaments in the clubs he has joined. He’s so adept and skilled in the game of “Skins” he often takes Mom out to dinner with his winnings. I consider him an expert in both careers and golf and recently enjoyed a conversation about those two topics one sunny Arizona afternoon.
It’s All in Your Head
“After you learn to play golf, the game is all in your head. It’s the same in life and your career. It doesn’t take long to get the basics down such that the actions become a part of muscle memory and become intuitive, but it’s a lifetime of learning how you handle and manage the game from a mental point of view.” Dad’s right, the basics are not hard to learn in the game of life or in ones profession – be respectful, have integrity, do a good job and say please and thank you. It’s how you manage and handle yourself while playing the game that makes all the difference.
In any game - be it a sport or real life - there are distractions, fumbles, penalty strokes and interceptions from how we thought the game would play out. It’s easy to get angry, upset and frustrated when this happens, but how you handle the upsets and how you behave with your fellow players is what makes the game enjoyable or not. How you handle anything in your life is your choice.
Step Back and Refocus
“Just because you have a bad shot off the first tee doesn’t mean the rest of your game has to be bad,” reflected Dad. “Step back and refocus. If you continue with your game in a negative frame of mind you’re going to have a negative game and poor performance.” Just like if you have a bad experience in a meeting or a bad day at work, it doesn’t mean you have a bad career, position or job. It just means you had a bad experience at that time. How you handle it though is up to you. Stepping back and refocusing allows you to better control the outcome.
“When you step back and refocus, you have the time to review what’s really going on,” professed Dad. “If you hooked or sliced the ball it doesn’t mean you’re a bad player, it just means your ball went in a direction you didn’t intend. So step back and refocus, what can you do on your next shot to make sure it doesn’t happen again? And if it does, sign up for lessons with the pro. Take charge of your game; don’t let it take charge of you.”
Take Charge of Your Career, Don’t Let it Take Charge of You
Who are you in the face of conflict, disagreement or just a bad experience? Do you step back and refocus? Do you fine tune your approach so that the next experience you have - the next shot off the tee box - doesn’t result in a double bogey? Or do you allow a bad day to influence your attitude in such a way that has you kicking the dog when you come home?
Avoid following a bad golf shot with an angry shot. It’s not unlike making an emotion decision after a bad experience.
You have choices regarding how you handle these interruptions or upsets. If you handle them like a petulant child not getting his or her way, chances are the rest of your day will be like fighting in a sandbox. However, if you take charge of the situation, be responsible for your actions and behaviors and be the source of your own power and leadership, guaranteed you’re going to have a better day and certainly a much better game.
If you want a hole-in-one day, then have the attitude like you’re a hole-in-one player.
Strategy for Any Game
Consider using the fairways as either 18 individual games, or two games of 9 holes as a strategy to practice generating a positive game from a mental stand-point. Consider using the same approach in your career and relationships in life.
There is only one person who can control the mental aspect of your game, especially when playing poorly. No one else is responsible for what goes on in your head when you’re not playing at your highest potential. Your manager, mentor or coach isn’t responsible for what goes on in your head or the actions that support your behaviors - you are. The best difference you can make is to ask for their guidance, advise or coaching. Listen, engage and apply – practicing these actions is your best strategy to improve how you play and perform anything in life.
Invest in Ways to Develop a Better Game
When you give yourself permission to grow and develop, you learn to become more flexible, handle distractions easier, and recognize when you’re operating from assumptions as though they are facts. Similarly in both the games of life and golf, when you allow yourself to question your mental barriers, you begin to play a more powerful game.
Using Henry Ford’s famous quote, “If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right.” Take advantage of the confidence you possess to play an extraordinary game. If you want a hole-in-one in golf, career or life, play like you have the skill, resources, tools and experience to make one – it’s obvious you already possess them.
Thank you Dad!