Turf Magazine - May, 2012

DEPARTMENTS

Unfinished Business: Take Your Best Shot

By Nicole Wisniewski

During the recent Masters Turnament at Augusta National, Professional Golfer Bubba Watson made one of those shots all golfers wish they could make when their ball is stuck deep in the woods.

He hit a rare and seemingly impossible hook shot off pine straw from a blind spot behind the trees that curved, landing within 10 feet of the hole.

The shot not only won him the tournament, but even Golf Legend Jack Nicklaus called it "one of the greatest shots ever played in the game."

Winning is a great feeling. The elation and adrenaline that come with achieving a new milestone, earning a new certification, or reaching a new professional height is incomparable.

But after winning a tournament like this comes the hard part: the encore. Watson may win another tournament, but do you think the course conditions, weather and situation will line up perfectly again for him to make that exact same shot? Maybe. But it's not guaranteed. Neither is another win. What is guaranteed is Watson's attitude; how he approaches each next shot is what will set him up for success.

Another helpful trait: resilience. Unfortunately, to win and really appreciate winning, one must understand loss. And, typically, it takes many failures to equal one win. The examples are all around us. Henry Ford's first two car companies were failures. Rowland Macy had four retail stores that failed before opening his flagship department store. And Walt Disney was fired from his first job because "he lacked imagination."

While many green industry companies have goals - to win a particular client, to reach a higher revenue level, to win a landscape design award, to achieve a new productivity or profitability goal - winning comes and goes. And then it's time to set a new goal. And, on the way toward each success will come failure. Failure is the ultimate entrepreneur test. Three out of 10 businesses fail in the first two years and only 50 percent survive after five years of business. Business owners who fail and then quit are giving up. Those who fail and learn from their mistakes are more likely to win their next challenge and beat the odds.

So, a landscape business owner's goals have to be rooted in something solid. Something reliable. And wallowing in pessimism or dwelling on failure are not options. Particularly in today's challenging economy, Russ Newman, executive director for professional practice, American Psychology Association, says business owners must avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems.

"Whether your business has had to downsize or just changed markets to accommodate the economy," he says, "you should focus on the big picture and realize these setbacks do not necessarily threaten the life of your business."

Newman offers other suggestions for companies to build their resilience during stressful times.

  • Develop realistic goals and keep moving forward. Even small accomplishments enable you to move toward those goals.
  • Embrace problem solving. It's an active and ongoing process that can increase resilience and strengthen your business. With each challenge entrepreneurs face, they evolve as business owners. This, in and of itself, is a success.
  • Have an optimistic outlook. "Nurture a positive view of yourself and your company. Small businesses are positioned to survive because they are nimble and flexible. "
  • Look beyond the business. Small business owners are notorious for nurturing their companies and employees while forgetting their own needs. "Engage in activities you enjoy and find relaxing; exercise," Newman says. "Taking care of yourself helps to keep your mind and body primed to deal with situations that require resilience."

Watson embraces this last point well. He and his wife recently adopted a baby boy, and he owns the General Lee from his favorite TV show "The Dukes of Hazard." As he said in an interview after winning the Masters: "Golf is not my everything. Tomorrow there's going to be a new tournament." Watson knows each game's outcome cannot be predicted. Each time he swings, he takes his best shot. But he doesn't get too attached to a particular outcome. That's strength. That's resilience.

Watson is known for saying, "If I've got a swing, I've got a shot." How many times do you think he's made blind, seemingly impossible hook shots that landed 10 feet from the hole? He had to try and fail many times before he perfected his shot. And, even then, so many factors can change the outcome. Nothing is guaranteed. To win, he must practice and have a dedication to his sport. But also he must have resilience - the resilience to overcome failure on the road to his next great win.

Nicole Wisniewski is a 15-year green industry veteran and award-winning journalism and marketing professional. She is currently a senior project manager in The Davey Tree Expert Co.'s marketing/corporate communications department. Visit her blog at www.mybiggreenpen.com or reach her at nwisniewski@neo.rr.com.