Three Principles A Coach Needs to Lead Through Adversity

For the first time in our lives we are facing unprecedented challenges as coaches. What makes this uniquely difficult is we lead our golfers well, yet at the same time be a good steward of our own needs. In seasons of doubt and fear such as we are all facing, we intuitively turn the focus to our own needs, which take priority over the needs of others. We shift our focus to personal needs, emotional struggles, financial pressures, and family concerns. This is a natural reaction to anything that threatens our well-being. However, buried below the rubble of negative emotions are 3 truths that we can use as our foundation moving forward. Regardless of age, family background or profession, we are more inclined to follow leaders who understand these three principles during seasons of adversity. If we as coaches acknowledge and apply these principles, they will help us lead others and lead ourselves well.
A quick note on principles. We are defining a principle as a universal truth that is beyond our control. Principles apply themselves to us. We do not have the power to change principles, they just “are.” If we leverage them to our advantage, they can have a positive impact on our lives. However, if we ignore them, they have the potential to lead to our demise. 

Principle 1: Direction Determines My Destination

“Where are you aiming?” Have you ever asked a student or fellow golfer that question on the tee? I love that question because of the litany of responses that follow. 
“The fairway.”
“Anywhere in the short grass.”
“Somewhere out that way.”
“Not out of bounds.”
“The left one-third of the fairway just passed the farthest right edge of the 2nd fairway bunker.”
Which response is correct? The answer is all of them. Which answer is BEST? Doesn’t the last one give you a better understanding of where the player is aiming? When we are specific about our direction it allows us to  see our destination. The detailed focus provides purpose, and that purpose leads to the outcome, or destination, we desire. Random yields random. In other words, if we settle for anything, we can expect anything. 
Think about it this way. If a student or client asked for directions to your facility, what would help them arrive most?
“Go South.”
“Get on the highway and exit in 4 miles or so.”
“Take I-77 South for 2.5 miles and exit at Arlington Rd. Turn right and travel through 3 traffic lights, then turn right on Rt. 619.” 
The right direction provides clarity for the right destination. As we press on through this season of uncertainty, it is imperative that we have specific direction for our businesses and clinics so that prosperity is the destination. This is principle is paramount for coaches, but why is this important for our clientele?
People follow CLARITY, not CONFUSION.
Clear, purpose-driven coaching breaks through the fog of negativity that clouds the mind. Be intentional. Use this time to clarify the direction of your business. Create a specific plan for what the future will be beyond this time of challenge. That direction takes you and the people you lead to the right destination.

Principle 2: Uncertainty is Unavoidable

Golf is the only game where the practice area is nothing like the area the game is played. Tennis courts, bowling alleys, basketball courts, and hockey rinks are all used for both practice and competition. Yet golf is most practiced on open, fairway-style practice tees that resemble the plains of Kansas: Not a lake or tree can be seen for miles. And we wonder why golfers cannot take their swing from the range to the course. I am no Butch Harmon, but the ball does not always settle on perfect, level short grass. The wind changes direction mid-swing. The sprinkler head kicks the ball into the bunker. The dollar-size divot in the middle of the fairway someone did not replace. The moment we embark on an 18 hole round, we begin a journey of uncertainty.
It should not come as a surprise to us that life, like golf, is equally unpredictable. At any moment the phone can ring with news we are not prepared to receive. Businesses close unexpectedly. Even as I write this snow flurries are falling when it was 70 degrees 24 hours ago. (Life in Ohio) We simply live in a world of outcomes that we cannot control.
However, we do have the ability to control factors that determine avoidable outcomes. If we want to attract new clients or students, then we need to advertise or create a free workshop. Need new equipment? A budget and savings plan is required. Several outcomes are avoidable if we manage the little things that lead to positive outcomes. We simply must control what we can control.
  • Make the choice to form a business plan.
  • Make the choice to create a marketing spreadsheet.
  • Make the choice to follow up with new students. 
  • Make the choice to spend more time with your children. 
Whatever we have the power to control (our time, finances, or resources), we have the potential to change avoidable outcomes.
Dr. Greg Rose has shared his enjoyment for gardening. As successful as TPI has become and the demands on his schedule, he still finds time to take care of his garden. If he plants a seed today, does he have tomatoes tomorrow? Of course not. Small deposits of attention to the right factors over time yield the best outcomes. The same is true for the golfers we lead. Success on the golf course requires our players spend time on areas of their game that lead to lower scores. 
Uncertainty? We are never going to avoid it. We can choose to make decisions every day that have a positive impact on future success.

Principle 3: I Cannot Lead Myself By Myself

Luke Skywalker had Yoda. The Karate Kid had Mr. Miyagi. Behind every successful business, coach or teacher is a mentor or team to guide them. One of the greatest advantages we have as members of the TPI community is we have direct access to a family of experts from around the world. Everyone is trying to navigate through the challenges our world is facing. The best news is that someone out there has the solution to the problem you are facing!
Do you own a chiropractic clinic? There are several TPI certified medical professionals facing the same challenges. Do you own a gym or manage a fitness facility? I would encourage you to reach out to any one of the trusted TPI certified fitness professionals for guidance. Are you a golf professional unable to coach or give instruction? Contact one of the TPI certified golf professionals to see how they are managing their students. Now is the time to seek guidance from other golf, fitness, and medical professionals.
For some this may be the hardest principle to accept. It is difficult to ask for help for 3 reasons:
  1. INDEPENDENCE: Entrepreneurs are pioneers, willing to venture into the business world despite the odds of success. Besides, the world is full of resources, podcasts, and books that can help. Solutions to problems are just a click or swipe away.
  2. FEAR: Rejection, humiliation, and loss of credibility are just a few of the fears some professionals grapple with when it comes to seeking advice from others. 

  3. PRIDE: That feeling in all of us that tells us we are too good to help. It’s easier to power up, harden our mindset and believe that asking for help is only for the weak.

Therefore the question that remains is this: Would we ever ask our students or clients to improve on their own? I trust you know the answer is no. Leading others requires that we push back against our internal struggle to move forward alone. The team approach has never been more necessary than it is today.
After we get back to normalcy and the world returns to the clubs, clinics and gyms, what story do you want to tell? What does life look like beyond this season of life? We have the power to write the end of the story. It starts with clarifying the direction we want to lead, acknowledging and accepting the uncertainty, and seeking the necessary guidance from others. I am confident in the resolve and passion of the global TPI community that despite all of our setbacks, we are a group of professionals that will continue to lead others, and lead ourselves to a better life on and off the golf course.
Josh Nelson

Neal Hausch MS, CES, CGFI graduated from Malone University with degrees in Sport Science and Biology in 2004. He completed his Master's Degree in Exercise Physiology from The University of Akron in 2007. In 2008, Neal acquired TPI certification and opened Golf Fitness Plus, LLC in Akron, OH. Golf Fitness Plus is a complete player development company specializing in K-Vest TPI 3D analysis, exercise prescription, and total performance coaching. As a Certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist through the American College of Sports Medicine, Neal acquired TPI Medical Level II certification in 2012. Most recently, he completed TPI Fitness Level II distinction in May of 2014. Recently, Neal was awarded the honor being listed as one of Golf Digest's Top 50 golf fitness professionals.

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