Watching a young, 21-year-old Jordan Spieth win the US Masters today, I could not help but think of the great qualities he displayed to win the most prestigious golf event on the calendar against the greatest players in the world. What can we learn from this young man to take into our lives as leaders?
1. Keep your emotions in check while at work
Emotions are powerful things for good and bad. The greatest leaders have learned to keep them in check. There is a great proverb: “A fool shares all their feelings while a wise man keeps them in check.”
As I watched Spieth playing, I noticed a constant calm around him. Whether he hit the shot he wanted or not, he was the same and kept his emotions stable, steady and strong. He never blamed the crowd, clubs, lie, or wind — he was a man in control.
2. Have a game plan and stick to it
Great players come out with a plan. They know which club they are going to drive with on every hole, they know which side of the fairway to land and exactly where they want to be standing on every green when they are putting; they have played it through their minds for months. Winning is not a fluke; it’s a by-product of months and years of planning.
Plan your work and then work your plan. Nothing happens by chance. There are three kinds of people in the world: Those who make things happen; people who watch things as they happen, and those who wonder what has just happened. Leaders are people who make things happen by planning in advance.
3. Use last years’ failures to motivate you with this year’s successes
If there is an event that every golfer dreams of winning, it’s the US Masters. So, how would Spieth have felt in 2014 getting so close to winning but coming second? Devastated.
As good as second was, he only wanted to be first. Second was a major miss, a letdown, a disappointment and a defeat. The difference between great shots and poor shots at the Masters is only inches. In that 2014 final round, Spieth was standing on the 8th hole with a 2-shot lead, but through a number of small misses he lost it and never recovered it.
So what do leaders do? How do they use the losses of the past to motivate them to succeed in the future? They never stop learning. As a great person once said, “While you’re green, you’re growing; when you’re brown you’re dying.” Great leaders stay green. They are always reading, learning, and they have come to understand that the greatest teacher of all is failure.
When I was 14 I was given a gift of some guitar lessons. After a few months, I thought I was pretty good. I would play and sing for my family. I was attending a small church around the corner from my home, and, one day, I was asked if I could play my guitar in church. I practiced a few times and then got up to play to the crowd one Sunday evening. That night, my nerves overcame me; I forgot how to play the chords, forgot the words and felt like a complete idiot. I could have allowed my embarrassment to stop me from ever playing in public again or I could have said, “That will never happen to me again; I will practice until my fingers bleed, and then I will practice some more until I know those chords and can change them without looking.” That’s what I chose to do, and I played my guitar in public for years.
Jordan Spieth took his past failures and turned them into learning lessons, and he won the US Masters this year.
4. Surround yourself with a champion team
Great leaders understand that they have weaknesses and surround themselves with people who will complement their skills and strengthen them. They are not threatened by others being smarter, bolder, wiser nor more discerning than they are; in fact, they love that these people are so talented – it’s because of this diversity that they all succeed.
Spieth’s caddie is Michael Greller. He was a sixth grade teacher, and though he doesn’t miss teaching, he sees some similarities; Greller said in a recent interview, “Now it’s the same thing, except that I have one kid, one person I’m working with.”
Spieth can be fiery, while Greller is a calming force. One of Greller’s main responsibilities is to be a source of encouragement for Spieth. Encouragement, ironically enough, is what Michael was missing when he was on the road.
The team have been together since the 2011 US Amateur. That combination has certainly worked this weekend for Spieth.
Control your emotion, plan your attack, learn from your failures and surrounding yourself with diversely talented individuals will put you in a winning position for your next big project.
Chris Gaborit is a serial entrepreneur who has built three successful companies without seed funding. For most of his life, Chris has traveled the world inspiring ordinary people to achieve extraordinary things. He believes that within every person is a destiny and calling that can be realized, released, and remarkable. He is cofounder of The Learning Factor, an outsource training company that delivers leadership training to Fortune 500 companies globally. Chris regularly writes for The Sydney Morning Herald, LinkedIn, and FastCompany. Find him on Twitter and LinkedIn.
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