Trust is vital to every small-business owner. Can you trust an employee? Can you trust a business partner? At no time is that trust more important then when considering the prospect of a new-hire or a business venture with a new partner. Sure – this person seems like a nice human being, they may be well-spoken, they may be smart and funny. But how well can you really know them? It’s tough to tell from a business meeting or an interview setting. If only there was an arena where a person’s true character was on display for the world to see and they were stripped of the formal business meeting or interview facade. Well, there is such a place – the golf course.
As those who have ever played golf can attest, the game can be frustrating and difficult, even for the most skilled players. Along with being devilishly infuriating, it can also be super fun, relaxing and rewarding. The fascinatingly polar nature of the game is especially adept at bringing a person’s true character bubbling to surface. English author, P.G. Wodehouse, went straight to the point, “To find a man’s true character, play golf with him”. There’s something about trying to hit a little white ball with a stick, it’s like jabbing a syringe full of truth-serum into a persons vein. Here are 4 things you can learn about a person on the golf course:
1. How Does A Person Deal With Failure or Frustration?
The tag team of failure and frustration WILL BE making an appearance on the golf course, no matter the skill level of the players involved. One only needs to click on the TV to see Tiger Woods cursing at himself and slamming clubs on the ground to witness this and he’s the best golfer on the planet. I’ve witnessed the chairman of a major organization, a man who heads the board of a hundred-million dollar company throw a golf club as hard as he could down a fairway in pure rage after a terrible shot. Needless to say, not a person you’d probably want to work with or for, under any circumstances. Failure and frustration, unfortunately rear their ugly heads during business also. How well will your prospective employee or business partner handle it?
2. How Does A Person Deal With Success?
Success in the game of golf, although fleeting for most, is almost as hard to manage as failure. Picture this: The golf gods smiled down from heaven and that long twisting putt that traveled a half a mile to reach the hole miraculously drops in. A birdie! Does the player then strut to the next tee box and swing as hard as humanly possible (never a good idea), because, hey – it must be their day? Or do they take their success in stride and continue to manage their golf swing for the most successful outcome and swing normally. After an unexpected promotion or financial windfall will your employee or business partner get cocky and start swinging for the proverbial “fences”?
3. Is This Person a Well-Rounded Individual?
The average round of 18-holes of golf can take between 3 to 4.5 hours to play. That’s a great opportunity for conversation and getting to know a person above the superficial level of chit-chat about the weather and football season. Do they have a family or children? What are their interests outside of the workplace? Are they married and flirting shamelessly with the beverage-cart girl? Can they have a cold beer or two during the round or are they worried about the breathalyzer attached to the ignition on their car? You can learn a multitude of interesting things about a person over the course of 4 hours. One of the least enjoyable rounds of golf I have ever played was with a co-worker who proceeded to dish the dirt on his ex-wife. For 4 straight hours. I wanted to stab myself in the ears with the little scorecard pencil. It wasn’t that unexpected, since he also had a reputation for gossiping during work hours about every other person he worked with and for. Should we not take any extra possible time we can to get to know a person before we trust them in our businesses?
4. Does This Person Have Character?
Play the ball as it lies. If the game of golf had Ten Commandments, that would be Commandment #1. The ball ends up behind a tree, guess what? You can’t kick the ball out from behind the tree. You just might have to swing left-handed or hit it backwards. There is no cutting corners. The game of golf is masterful at revealing the character of its players. Heck, it’s the only game in the world where players are required to assess penalties on themselves. There are no referees with whistles or yellow flags. There are endless scenarios with endless opportunities to cheat the rules in golf, however, the character of the golfer governs the game. Character and ethics are vitally important to small business success. Who doesn’t want to do business with person of high character? A person uninterested in cutting corners. A person who plays the ball as it lies? I know I do.