Recently I had the great indulgent pleasure of taking a day from work, forming a team and participating in the annual golf day fundraiser for my local football and netball club.
This is traditionally a very enjoyable day – a morning spent walking the fairways (and a bit further), engaging in banter, occasionally solving the problems of the world and all the while helping a fantastic community club begin its year to on-field and off-field success.
But a funny thing happened this year, somehow I managed to win the “Longest Drive” on the nominated hole – which was quite a surprise to me and to those that know (and have seen) my golfing prowess.
I play golf once a year, at this tournament. To borrow a phrase which is often describe the location of theatre and musical shows in New York City, the majority of my time on a golf course is spent “Off-Fairway”.
So, how did I somehow manage to achieve the longest drive – it was due to my 3 team mates on the day:
I have known Molly for a number of years through Junior Sport as my son is the same age as his oldest boy. Molly is reknowned locally for the massive contribution he has made to our local cricket club – especially Junior Cricket. Having managed the opening of the golf course on which we were playing, his local knowledge is very handy – and so were his coaching skills.
Nish is a man of many talents, currently he is successfully working at something he has wanted to do since he was 15, be a professional photographer – having had a successful financial services career. He sings, plays guitar, hits a decent golf ball – he is one of those guys who is easy to engage with across a range of subjects.
Due to a skiing injury (or an old man injury – depending on your perspective and age), Simon (our regular 4th team member) made a last-minute withdrawal. A call to Ed (Nish’s brother in law) the night before the golf day, and he was part of the OMC Group team. Ed is currently in Australia as he is restricted from travelling back to Shanghai.
What did these guys do that somehow led to the longest drive?
It was a sensational day. It started in the usual fashion with long walks in the grass (looking for my golf balls) and consistent team scores of Par, Par, Par. One of the aspects of 4 Ball Ambrose that I appreciated and value is the opportunity to play “the best ball”. Whilst each of us all take our shots, it is the best positioned ball that we then use as the starting point for our next set of shots.
This is awesome as for not so great golfers like myself, if you hit a good shot it gets used and if you make a mistake, it generally doesn’t matter as there is normally a better option thanks to one or more of your team mates.
On this historic day (at least as far as my golfing performance), we had a sensational team environment. Missed shots were acknowledged but supported. Great shots were celebrated – regardless of who made them. Were 3 of the team of 4 carrying the load for the 4th (maybe), but actually they were taking up their role of guiding us as a team and keeping us focussed. The no so great golfer (me) was free to enjoy the day and have a go.
Molly’s coaching experience was evident both in his instruction and approach – “I’m going to coach you like my U11 cricket team and just give you one thing to focus on at a time” – and it worked. The drives got straighter and longer, the chip shots were discouraged (“let’s just play it safe”) and I enjoyed the role of “the canary in the coal mine” – taking the 1st putting shot at each green so the subsequent team members had an opportunity to observe the pace and run of the green.
Ed & Nish concentrated on their own games and the broader team performance, Molly had a blinder and regularly provided the key shot that enables sustained performance – actually all 4 of us played a key shot a number of times throughout the day.
So, to the longest drive.
By this stage I was super relaxed, the body was loose and the shots had were generally heading where they were supposed to. I hit the drive, thought “it’s pretty good” and as we approached the ball (in the middle of the fairway!) we all realised, this was a chance for the longest drive. We recorded my name, I took a photo of the card (this seriously does not happen to me!) and enjoyed the remainder of the holes.
As a team, we didn’t win – but that didn’t matter, that wasn’t the plan. Our plan was to have fun, enjoy the day, appreciate the luxury of playing golf on a work day and help set a great community club up for what we hope is a sensational 2020.
So how the longest drive?
I was relaxed, I was focussed and I was looking to improve – thanks to my 3 great teammates. We had created an open, fun, supportive and trusting environment – and then led me to achieve an outcome that I had never previously considered was a possibility.
As an aside, I recently heard Ashton Agar being interviewed about his history making hattrick and 5 wicket haul in a T20 game against South Africa. Whilst he used different examples, he described a similar team environment that resulted in his achieving his own version of history.
Now I am not comparing my longest drive with a 5-wicket haul, that would be foolish, he is a professional sportsperson – clearly my outcome was harder!
What’s the connection to OMC Group. We spend a lot of time working with teams, helping them be effective. We normally push them pretty hard to be clear about goals and roles, to provide each other open and honest feedback and to hold each other accountable for performance.
Having achieved an outcome that I never thought possible, thanks to my team, I am now gong to spend more time exploring how we get that sense of fun back into work. How do we play hard & have fun. How do we support each other to achieve what would not be possible without each other.