Last weekend I was coerced into a round of golf. Now those who know me would understand that my golfing handicap is my golf! I am not a regular, nor would I call myself a weekend hacker. I am more like an annual attempter!
But surprisingly, and much to the irritation of my opponents, I did fairly well. And there were one or two moments – when I hit the ball in the sweet spot of my iron – when I understood the addiction and appeal of golf. Unlike professional golfers, the problem with weekend hackers and annual attempters is that we rarely hit the sweet spot, and when we do it’s inconsistent.
Your business is your profession and you should be hitting the sweet spot all the time.
The sweet spot in business is when you are pushing yourself out of your comfort zone but operating within your limitations. As a coach, I am always promoting the notion of learning, improving, pushing the envelope and operating beyond your comfort zone. But there is also a limit to what is possible, and recognising those limits is just as important as pushing yourself. It’s about finding a “safety zone”.
Some people are just not natural leaders. Just as you can learn the skills required for golf, you can learn the skills required for leadership. But to really excel and succeed, it needs to come naturally. I am not a natural golfer. My performance last weekend was due to my caddy who gave me excellent advice. For me to succeed, I had to surround myself with people who could help me find my sweet spot. The same is true in business. When you know your limitations, you can plug the gaps with people who have the skills that you don’t. You need to grow, but it’s pointless putting yourself under pressure to perform in a zone that doesn’t feel safe.
This concept should be applied to your expectations of your employees. They too have limitations, and you need to ensure you have the right people with the necessary natural talent in the right positions. This is where profiles and assessments are important. They give you an indication of an individual’s natural behaviour and profile. While skills can be learned, and employees should be expected to grow, you also want your employees to feel safe in extending themselves.
Limitations are also about legal parameters. Striving to be leaders in your industry means you will be operating at the cutting edge. I have had to walk away from clients who push the boundaries too far in terms of what is ethical. It’s about your integrity, governance, and values, and while you might make short-term gains, it’s never a sustainable solution when you operate outside of the safety zone.
Spend some time thinking deeply about what makes you feel safe. How can you implement stable change and take risks with a safety net in place? That’s your sweet spot… and that is where your success is inevitable.
Have a great weekend!