The PGA Championship just took place at Whistling Straits in Kohler Wisconsin. I watched it off and on while playing a round of golf myself (attempting to play at the professional level) with a client in Pinehurst, North Carolina, in airports flying back, and at home on the weekend between catching up on work and doing all the other tasks a traveling person finds piled up when they return.
Whistling Straits is a very difficult course made worse the first two days of this tournament by horrible weather including extremely high winds. It was so bad that as lightning appeared late Friday afternoon the second round was suspended with a number of players still on the course. Play resumed the following morning and after the conclusion of the second round, the third round began. It was a long Saturday for those who had to finish their second round. The weather on the final two days was much nicer, so golf conditions improved significantly.
The differing weather conditions and thus golf course conditions faced by players is an added test of their skill. When the weather is erratic, a player can face a different course from minute to minute. There is no adjustment to your score if you’re caught in 50 mile per hour winds, the rain starts falling, or the temperature hits 105 degrees.
It’s the luck of the draw whether you play in the worst weather of the day, or the best. In either case your job is the same – get the ball in the cup in par or better. Most importantly, finish the four rounds in fewer strokes than everyone else.
And yet each player is expected to accept this without complaint. With only their caddy in tow for advice and support, they must always play their best and work to overcome obstacles the weather and changing conditions place in front of them.
Without complaint they must deal with the conditions as they find them even when they’re playing in hail and their competitors in a cool gentle breeze. As they play they must keep in mind that a shot or two can make the difference between winning or losing, between hundreds of thousands of dollars or nothing at all.
What’s the lesson here? No complaints. Work hard and persevere in spite of what is thrown at you. Work against and ignore any advantages your competitors might have. Stretch yourself to overcome obstacles and rise to the situation. Do the best you can do…always. Stay focused on your goal.
Be nice if you could have a whole team of professional golfers working for you, wouldn’t it?
A good friend of mine called me some weeks ago to discuss a trip we were planning to a client meeting. During the call he casually mentioned he had just been diagnosed with prostate cancer. I know many men reading this just had the same visceral reaction I did – a tightening of the groin along with an expression of empathy and support. I can’t speak for women but assume they would have a similar physical and emotional reaction after hearing of a friend’s breast cancer.
My colleague went on to calmly explain that while the disease was diagnosed at an early stage, it was a virulent form and would require surgery within a month or two. He was investigating two extremely highly rated hospitals in order to get a couple of opinions and determine which treatment and hospital was the best for him.
During a subsequent meeting, after the hospital visits, we discussed his perception of each. His research uncovered that both places received top ratings for patient outcomes. He had the highest praise for the physicians and other staff he met at both hospitals. And yet he chose Johns Hopkins, not too far from his home but less conveniently located than the other hospital.
Johns Hopkins landed a $32,000 operation due to their customer service. With all else being more or less equal, customer service was the deciding factor.
My friend explained how their excellent service began when he entered the hospital and was immediately greeted by a friendly lady who rapidly and efficiently gathered his initial information. She then asked him to wait for five minutes while she got the next person he needed to see. In less than three minutes he was talking with the second helpful person. His entire visit moved along like this. No time wasted, rapid transition from person to person, all his questions well answered, all information clearly conveyed including total costs and insurance coverage amounts.
At the other hospital they were pleasant enough but he came away feeling they had no particular special interest in him. He was merely a package working its way through their production line. And he left unsure about the final financial issues.
He left Johns Hopkins feeling that everyone there was totally dedicated to his wellbeing, comfort, and peace of mind. They even offered him a single room with a second bed if his wife wanted to spend the night.
When he finished sharing his experience and his upcoming surgery appointment at Johns Hopkins, he had a smile on his face. There he was, coming to the end of a story about this scary surgery he was about to undergo and he was smiling about it.
By happenstance, the next day I heard a very different kind of story on the radio. It was a horror story of terrible service and after-the-fact billing for patients undergoing surgery at several other hospitals. Various people shared their dismay at how they were treated and disgust and anger at the unexpected financial fight after their release from the hospital. The names of the hospitals were prominently mentioned.
In my friend’s case, two hospitals, completely different ways of providing customer service. His story will be shared widely as will those of the people in the radio story. Which would you rather be known as? The organization that people leave smiling or the one they leave seething with disgust and anger?