About 2 years ago I bought a set of golf clubs.

That was my logic – in order to get into something that I had been promising to myself and telling other people that I was getting into, I needed to make an investment; like a statement of intent. It wasn’t a particularly great set of golf clubs and like so many of my not so great ‘investments’ over the years, I didn’t conduct any research into which golf clubs may actually be a fit for me and it was a completely impulse purchase. It just so happened a golf shop opened an outlet next to my condo and I literally walked in there one day as I was passing and walked out with a full set.

I expect any golf amateurs out there are likely to be scoffing at this point, or you may even relate to this!

My new golf clubs looked great sitting in my condo and for a while, they served the purpose that I had subconsciously acknowledged to myself – that I could tell people I was learning golf. Of course, what this really meant was I was kidding myself and I wasn’t really going anywhere with it at all. Running around my head was this notion that I was in business in Asia and I therefore needed to network and golf was such as great platform for doing this. I had romantic images of business relationships being struck up on the putting green of the 18th hole. By being a non-player, however, I was therefore not in this exclusive club.  I had no tales of current handicap that I was working on, which is the preserve of this exclusive club, that I could recite to whoever was sending out the invites, which may at least have won me some credibility. But for the occasional trip to the golf driving range trip to convince myself I was deriving at least some value from my investment, I was making no progress.

And so my clubs continued to sit in the condo.

I recall the advice of a good friend of mine and very accomplished amateur golfer, that in order to really make progress, especially in the early stages, it’s essential to book a golf coach, get lessons and keep attending until you crack it. Of course, initially I overlooked such wisdom as I was more interested in just buying some clubs and looking the part, until one day, a work colleague mentioned his friend was an accomplished coach in KL and he specialised in teaching beginners. For some reason, something clicked at this point and I decided to make further enquiries, bite the bullet and make the commitment that was needed by investing in 10 block lessons. This was the step that was needed as, in a sense, I had no choice but to attend. I was locked into committing the time needed to actually learn how to play.

I was delighted the coach in question lived up to the billing. Aside from being a highly accomplished semi-professional himself, he was a genuine coach. He was patient and very quick identified what was necessary to build up my stroke to a reasonable standard. He broke the stroke into easy to understand building blocks that I could build into my own action and muscle memory. He didn’t cut corners and indeed some lessons were focussed, in agonising detail, on one tiny element of my play. He also developed an understanding of my natural stroke and, was able to tailor the coaching to where it was needed. The sessions were also fun and friendly and I enjoyed them. As such they become a key part of my weekly routine that I looked forward to.

Clearly this required significant commitment from me too, but as I started to enjoy the game and process of learning more, I naturally trained and played more. There’s a well circulated fact that, in order to become good at anything, you need to repeat it 10,000 times. This fact is no truer than in golf. Repetition and practice is absolutely the key to making improvements and, 8 months into attending golf coaching every week for at least 1 hour, I am safely past the 10,000 repetition point and I’m glad to say the results are starting to show.

Am I good at golf? – absolutely not!

Can I play golf? – yes!

Do I enjoy golf? – this is the most important question and yes I do, so the time and investment was worth it!

So, what’s the lesson here?

There are a few and I will spell those out:

To become good at anything, you have to ask, ‘what do I want out of this and why?’

Superficial factors will get you nowhere. It has to mean something to you personally and you’ve got to want to do it.

Do your research and follow good advice from those that know better.

Do you have a coach or mentor to help navigate your progress? If not seek one out.

You have to make the commitment – no half measures.

Practice makes perfect – if you repeat something regularly, you will improve and it will become more natural

Enjoyment is important – if you can derive pleasure or satisfaction, despite the challenges along the way, you will pull through

I will leave you to work out how these points apply to business, though I expect they do.

As for me, last week, I upgraded my golf clubs and this time, I took some good advice before I did it. <!--[if !supportLineBreakNewLine]-->