4 career development lessons to learn from golf

Golf can teach you valuable career development lessons. Here are 4 lessons to improve your career plan and open the door to new career opportunities. 

This past week, the Mauritius Open, a men’s professional golf tournament, kicked off at the Heritage Golf Club on the Indian Ocean island. And, as any golfer will tell you, there’s more to the game than meets the eye, including skills such as strategy, discipline and commitment – skills that are highly valued for professional development. While golf has always been linked to business networking, it can offer many lessons beyond that for your career.

Here’s how you can leverage the game to “birdie” your career and score that hole-in-one.

4 tips to improve your career development

1. Focus on your next shot

Often, we devote so much time and energy to a specific product or project that when it falls short of our expectations – or those of our boss – we’re unable to let go. However, says Red Sap Solutions, a bad shot in golf is exactly that: A bad shot.

In your career, mistakes and failures happen too. The key is not to dwell on it but clear your mind and learn from your missteps in order to develop professionally. As the Harvard Business School blog points out, the best golfers understand they can’t go back and change their shot so it’s best to just focus on the next one.

2. Get a feel for the course

In golf, this means knowing the course before you step out for the game. Having a home-course advantage allows a golfer to avoid the sticky areas, play to the best of their abilities at every hole and find opportunities as they come up, says Forbes.

If a golfer is unfamiliar with a course, they will often study it to chart out the slopes and distances, or do a practice round. Similarly, in your career aspirations, visualising your career goals will help inform your decision making. The end result won’t always look exactly like your vision but the strategy you put in place will lead to better results.

3. Play the course

Many times, we get so caught up in the day-to-day problems of our job that we end up taking out our frustrations on our “playing partners” – aka our colleagues. However, says Harvard Business School, our competition in our careers are not the people we work alongside but our environment.

In fact, according to Gameplan A, the career advice website of apparel brand adidas, while your career is an individual sport like golf, sharing your knowledge and learning from others allows for more connections and higher chances of seeing results – for both you and your team.

4. Drive for show and putt for dough

Anyone that plays golf will tell you that it is a sport of precision with various tools (14 clubs) and one end goal: Hitting that small ball into a hole that’s not all that large.

So while playing a long game and driving a shot may look impressive, professional golfers also ensure their short game is solid enough to win when the odds are stacked against them. As in golf, setting short- and long-term career goals is important as both are essential to your success, says Dumb Little Man.

While both golf and your career presents unexpected challenges and can’t always be plotted to a tee, aiming to improve across certain parts of your “game” will stand you in good stead as you navigate the career ladder. The University of Stellenbosch Business School Executive Development (USB-ED) offers a range of courses designed to help you achieve your career goals. For more information on courses, click here.

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