Meeting a potential new client for the first time is a bit like going on a first date. You put on your most flattering clothes, take extra care with your hair and/or makeup. Your heart pounds nervously and your palms sweat as you turn over the meeting in your head. What are you going to say? Will you like them? Will they like you?
You hope to make an impression that leads to a second date, and a third, and eventually to a long-term relationship. How do you know if you are really right for each other, though? After all, early in any relationship, whether personal or business, people are always on their best behavior; showing the side of themselves that they hope you like. Only after an extended period of time do their real characteristics, morals, and attitudes become known.
In business, the last thing you want to do is invest valuable time and resources only to find out you are not compatible with your partner. This can only lead to contentiousness, resentment, and eventually, separation (normally in an unpleasant manner). Ultimately, wasting everyone’s time.
Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to accelerate and condense the process? Interestingly enough, a great way to do this is through the game of golf.
Because golf is a game of you against the course, where no one impedes your progress, it is a wonderful opportunity to explore and understand a person’s nature to an extent that few other activities allow. Observing how someone experiences the game provides so many insights into their character that you’ll quickly establish whether this is someone you could (or would want) to work with.
For example, how successful do you think you’ll be partnering with people who exhibit any of these attributes:
· A person who blames everything except themselves on the golf course.
o Do you want to partner with someone who will never take responsibility for anything?
· A person who should call a penalty on themselves, but waits to see if anyone notices.
o Do you want to partner with someone who will take advantage of you whenever they have the opportunity?
· A person who can’t abide by the rules, so they do what they “feel” is fair (for them)?
o Do you want to partner with someone who will cut corners at every opportunity?
Conversely, wouldn’t you rather partner with someone who exhibits these traits?
· Accepts and learns from their mistakes and keeps moving forward in good humor and spirits?
o Do you want to partner with someone who is accountable and takes responsibility?
· Focuses on the objective, while acknowledging unexpected challenges.
o Do you want to partner with someone who is attuned to the ultimate goal, and is transparent?
· Encourages and compliments your good shots.
o Do you want to partner with someone that supports and is interested in helping you achieve success?
One of these types will clearly be a valued partner focused on growing the relationship; and the other will only be looking out for their particular relationship interest. I know which I would prefer to be in business with.
So, before taking the leap from dating to relationship, try heading out to the golf course. As Sir P.G. Wodehouse said,
“Golf… is the infallible test. The man who can go into a patch of rough alone, with the knowledge that only God is watching him, and play his ball where it lies, is the man who will serve you faithfully and well.”
Isn’t that what you’re looking for in a business partner?