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There’s a question I ask first in all my golf seminars and lessons, because it’s so fundamental to even the fundamentals (posture, grip, alignment) of golf. It’s a question that may seem simple, rarely gets asked, and is neglected at great costs. It’s also a question that I ask all the groups and organizations I speak to, as it has great relevancy in business as well. Here it is:

What makes your golf ball go?

Answers I’ve heard vary from ‘Because I hit it’ to ‘the swing,’ ‘momentum,’ ‘impact of the clubface on the golf ball,’ to things like ‘intention,’ ‘physics’ and ‘force.’ While these all have something to do with moving your golf ball from Point A to Point B, the most basic and important answer is: YOU!

It’s the golfer – you and I, all dressed up in cool golf clothes – that makes the golf ball go.

It’s also you, the CEO, the Key Executive, the leader dressed up in business attire, that makes your company tick and thrive.

So the next question becomes: Who are you? Who am I?

This isn’t an existential or philosophical inquiry. It’s a very practical matter to realize that who every one of us is, is vital ‘life-energy’ flowing through our human faculties of body, mind, emotions and spirit. We don’t have a special word for it in English. The Chinese call this life-energy Chi, the Japanese call it Ki. And learning to manage one’s own Ki really is key to being able to play better golf, or be more creative and productive, or run a happier and more profitable business. This isn't a new age or California thing. It's the timeless and universal underpinning of everything.

To appreciate how powerful your life-energy is, let’s think about a full golf swing. You coil your Ki in roughly 2 seconds into 70-100+ mph of clubhead speed to launch and guide the ball from tee to green. You deliver this life-energy from all your limbs and muscles, governed by a myriad of thoughts and feelings, into that tiny dimpled ball, to a small distant target on one of the largest playing fields in sports. You’re the only one inside of yourself, moving your body, swinging the club, thinking your thoughts, having your feelings, making decisions, and managing your responses to everything that happens out on the golf course.

So it stands to reason that gaining greater insight into yourself is fundamental to your golf game (and your leadership). As a psychologist, LPGA golf pro, 6th degree Aikido black belt, and mind-body trainer, it’s what I view as developing greater self-mastery. I call it becoming a ‘black belt golfer’ and ‘black belt leader’: a person in charge of yourself and ever-more-masterfully doing what you do. Being a leader in control of your energy and not just bewildered or at the effects of the often vexing games of golf, business and life.

Before spending more money on the latest greatest equipment, or more time chasing down ‘what’s wrong’ with you or your golf swing or company, I suggest gaining greater understanding of the ‘human capital’ side of things. What are your passions and motivations? Your strengths, style, needs, stress reactions? How do other people, pressure and adversity affect you? What kind of coaching, practicing and circumstances best help you, and your colleagues and employees, to work in harmony and be at the top of your game?

Annika Sorenstam, one of the greatest women golfers of all time, put it this way: “We are not golfers who happen to be human beings, we are human beings who happen to be golfers.” Which is to say that knowing and understanding who we are as human beings, in whatever roles we may play, is what is essential. Annika went on to add: “Reaching my goal of #1 was about improving not only as a player, but as a total person.” To which I would add that personal growth can be a lot of fun, and truly pays off in our efforts to optimize our scores and profits.

There are many great speakers and approaches out there to reach your peak potential and performance. The Centered Way talks, trainings and personal coaching go to the heart and core of matters. So the last question is really an invitation: Why not use tools to tune up, speed up and profoundly upgrade your self-awareness and self-leadership, that are guaranteed to up your ROI on all your golf and business improvement efforts?

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