Newsletter: It’s okay not to play golf
Reflections from our March 2020 edition:
Have you ever felt like you needed to be different in order to get ahead? Whether that unease was about things you couldn’t change (skin color, etc.) or things you could (interests, how you dress)?
Had you asked me that question in the last 25 years, I would have answered “no” without hesitation. In my self-perception, I’ve been accepting the challenges and opportunities that come with who I am for as long as I can remember. For instance, you can imagine the mixed blessing of typecasting vs. memorability that comes with being named Precious.
Fortunately, the universe has a wonderful way of disabusing us of false self-perceptions. In my case, reality came in a hunt through my garage last weekend, where I confronted a veritable graveyard of golf clubs, including a nice set with tags and plastic still intact. The clubs are a tangible reminder of when I was convinced being myself was not enough. My authentic self is wildly unathletic. (Please resist the urge to tell me it isn’t so; well-intended, eventually baffled coaches for a wide gamut of sports have gently encouraged me to take solace in the benefits of walking. I’ve tried everything else; they’re right.) Growing up, I was content to pursue science fair as my competitive sport. Thank goodness.
Then came Wall Street. As I looked around my investment bank and read biographies of business titans, I became convinced that I “needed” to play golf to be successful. Sadly, I was not alone in that thinking. When we survey professionals about their business development challenges, routinely 30-40% list “not good at golf” as one of their top barriers. Not one to accept an obstacle, I threw myself into learning to play, read books about the rules, and began accumulating the equipment that was supposed to transform my coordination and interest level – all to no avail. Looking back on it, I squandered lots of time and the chance to do things I actually enjoyed for fitness and business development. Hindsight also proves that I achieved my goals just fine without golf.
While it seems silly or small, I now remember well the insecurity I felt when others talked about their golf outings. Do you have something like that, that’s undermining your belief in yourself or distracting you from doing what it really takes to get what you want? If so, please learn from my mistake, and find something to focus on that benefits from the unique skills and perspective you bring to it. As the saying goes: be yourself. Everyone else is taken.
I’d love to hear about your thoughts. Contact us here to chat.
Precious Williams Owodunni | CEO & Founder of Mountaintop Consulting
This letter was originally published in Mountaintop Consulting’s monthly newsletter. You can read the full newsletter here.
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