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Sand Happens

Master Your Game by Getting Out of the Right/Wrong Trap Easily

Ladies League Team Golf has kicked off again for the summer in Whitefish, MT. Our team, 406 thrive!, is back together for a third season.

You may be asking yourself what Ladies League Team Golf has to do with business and healthy conflict.

Playing golf is much like the way I experience business.

Ladies League Team Golf brings in the challenge of balancing individual effort with team collaboration.

The fun part of golf for me is the sweet feeling of hitting a long drive off the tee up the middle of the fairway. But even if you’re really good, those long drives only make up about 22 percent of your game score; and if you’re not so good, it’s a much smaller percentage of your game. Though I love those long drives, if I want to enjoy the game and improve, I need to spend a lot of time practicing my short game: chipping, putting, and getting out of the sand. That long-drive tee shot will not sustain me.

In my work as a business consultant, I love delivering – which means working with a team or speaking to an audience. While that may be what I love, if I want to keep doing it, I had better get good at my “short game” of business ownership – which means sales and marketing, technology, and conflict.

Yep, I said conflict, because … wait for it.

For some of you, sales and marketing may be things you love doing. That has not been the case for me. It’s taken me a while to understand that sales and marketing – which are much like the short game of chipping and pitching in golf – are as important to my business success as delivering. In golf, it’s critical to know how to pop that ball up in the air when you’re 60 to 70 yards away from the green, landing it squarely next to the hole.

Technology is a similar short game for me. Though I’m a gadget gal and enjoy learning any kind of new software, I tend to not take the time to perfect my skills – like putting in golf. I’m impatient and just want to move on. This makes me okay, but sometimes okay isn’t good enough. Only consistent practice ensures success.

Finally, now, we get to it: conflict. Conflict is a natural and healthy part of any business, because business involves relationships – come on, what business doesn’t? Conflict can be like a landing in a sand trap or the rough. I’d love to avoid both altogether, but sand happens (as does the rough), and not being prepared to handle those shots can destroy my golf score.

Do I want to practice hitting the ball out of the sand – hell, no!

Why not?

Well, it’s an awkward, uncomfortable shot to master. Who likes having sand tossed in their face or having an off-balance stance while making a sand shot? It isn’t fun. The same can be said for landing in conflict: it’s awkward and uncomfortable and a challenge to master. When I’m in conflict, I often feel off balance and out of control. But if I can develop my conflict skills of being vulnerable and curious, then I can usually get out of that right/wrong trap more quickly. This skill is a part of business.

You see, golf does have a lot in common with business.

In the Ladies League, golf becomes a team sport. Our team isn’t after the title (yet); our goals are to have fun, become better golfers, and play well together and with others. For us, it’s not about being number one. It is about consistently improving, and it’s about establishing ourselves as a team that can play with anyone else on any given day.

In some ways, the same goes for me in business. I don’t have to be the best. I do, however, want us to continue to improve and to enjoy a good game.

Why? Because I’ll always enjoy a great tee shot, but I know I’ll have a bigger impact on my golf score – and we’ll have a bigger impact and help more business teams –with a solid short game to back up the long shot!

CrisMarie Campbell and Susan Clarke

Coaches, Business Consultants, Speakers and Authors of The Beauty of Conflict

CrisMarie and Susan work leaders and teams, couples in business, and professional women.

They help turnaround dysfunctional teams into high performing, cohesive teams who trust each other, deal with differences directly, and have clarity and alignment on their business strategy so they create great results.

Check out their website: Connect with CrisMarie and Susan on LinkedIn. Watch their TEDx Talk: Conflict – Use It, Don’t Defuse It! Find your copy of The Beauty of Conflict: Harnessing Your Team's Competitive Advantage here.

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