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“So it’s three stories tall and there’s nothing between you and certain death but a short net? And you’re going to take my little man there?”
I was cautiously optimistic about Topgolf, a new business in our town where you hit golf balls out the side of their building into a fenced-in range. I imagined their giant liability policy and wondered how long they’d last. Then this weekend, we ventured there together, with both kids, and I was surprised at how safe I felt, even standing at the edge of the third floor. I think since you’re far enough back that you can’t see straight down, it feels safe enough. Still, I watched my kids like a hawk anytime they left our gray couch to have their turn.
My husband used to do this professionally. Not in giant wall-less buildings like this, but on normal driving ranges back in the late ’90s and early ’00s. He was a professional long driver – one of the best because of his incredible leverage from being tall. Saturday, I sat in the warm embrace of their overhead heaters and watched him hit ball after ball over the snow outside and off the back of Topgolf’s fence. I should say, I watched him hit the ball and then I usually lose track of it as it makes its descent. But this time I have the advantage of their scoring system to tell me it is, indeed, out of the park. 75pts. 50pts. 500pts in 10 balls. “These aren’t even real golf balls because of the microchip,” he says. “They don’t go as far as they should.”
Well, that is indeed good news for me, because every time I get up there, I have to remind myself that I’m a beginner to avoid wanting to cry on the way back to my seat. No matter how I visualize, how I adjust and hold my arms, keep my eye on the ball, or do all of the other proper things he once taught me to do – it’s a total crapshoot. Sometimes it barely bounces off the end of the net. Thank God it didn’t hit the people next to us! I think. Memories of childhood bowling embarrassments come flooding back. The next shot goes forever but misses the hole. Another one looks great – and goes straight out into right field – if there were such a thing in golf.
Ball after ball, I’m reminded that I’m a beginner. I’m someone who grew up around golf. My uncle is also a professional, a hall of famer in our town. My dad played. My grandma played. Everyone in Michigan plays. I’ve been carted around crisp green courses bored out of my mind for a long time. But I’ve never loved it, so I’ve rarely played it, and I’m a beginner.
Yet I know that if I were to hit 200+ balls every evening like my husband did as a teen, or play every single weekend, or join a league, I’d get better. With each ball hit, I’d learn something new about how to make it go where I want it to go. And so it is in business.
It doesn’t matter what we read about hitting the proverbial ball, or visualize doing it, or think about hitting it: until we actually hit the damn ball we learn nothing.
Business requires us to take action. Write copy. Then write it 300 more times. Coach another client. Post on social media. Go Live on Facebook every week for a year. Write a weird blog about golfing. Each time you will learn something new about you and your business. You’ll learn what works and what doesn’t. You’ll develop your game no differently than a stellar athlete does every day they get up at 4 AM to practice or play match after match every week. There are no shortcuts to mastery. Even finding zen, connecting to your soul, and being one with the ball isn’t going to make you suddenly become Tiger Woods.
It takes practice. It takes ball after ball after ball. It takes learning how to tee up, fix your stance, line up your swing, move your body, and hold your head — it takes practice.
Get out there, get into action, and practice the crap out of your business. Some days you’re going to barely get it past the net and some days you’re going to watch it bounce off the back fence.
Just show up and start swinging.
You’ve got this.
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