Saturday, April 07, 2007

Fast Company: Leadership Lesson: Tiger at Doral

A great post on leadership, confidence, and focus from Fast Company. Three lessons learned from Tiger Woods and why he stays on top, check your ego, trust yourself, and don't blink.


Leadership Lesson: Tiger at Doral

"Check your ego. At the eighteenth hole, Tiger held a three stroke lead. So what does the game’s best player of the day do? With five hundred yards of water to his left, and not trusting his driver to play the ball straight, he plays it smart. Tiger pulls out a three-iron and lays up. Not once, but twice. That’s brilliance. No macho driver for him. Many a golfer have succumbed to ego in such positions and wound up losing.

Trust yourself. Tiger knows his game better than anyone. When he was rolling well, he trusted himself to pull out the stops and hit the shots he needed to hit. And frankly for most of the 72-hole tourney, Tiger was in command of his game. He led from day one, hitting great tee shots and even more incredible second shots to get him on the green in regulation. But when his putter did not hold up, he turned conservative and did not push shots to the edge. Better a par than a bogey. Or when things get really tough, a bogey is better than a double bogey.

Don’t blink. It is traditional for golfers in the lead walking up the fairway of the 72nd hole to smile, doff their hats and acknowledge the cheers. But with a lead that had dwindled from six strokes to two, Tiger was taking no chances; he maintained focus. His second shot, again from a lay-up position was masterful; it put him on the green, but 52 feet from the hole. His lag putt was a gem, end up just 3 feet from the hole. Brett Wetterich, with short putt for a birdie, missed and Tiger only needed to hole his shot to make bogey and win. When his ball rolled in, then and only then did Tiger flash his million-dollar smile, doffing his cap and acknowledging the crowd. And then as he always does, he congratulated his opponent on a round well-played."


I recently had a ding to my ego for a project I was working on. I was upset at first that people thought my idea was harebrained. My idea was simple, create a bookmobile from a standard van, insert the bookshelves, and place a satellite dish on top so that patron could check-out books AND use wireless internet access from the van on laptops we provided. Many bigger systems do this, but I knew I would be stretching the limits of my knowledge and I knew I would get no IT support for the dish and wireless.

I didn't lose heart that the start of things were rocky. We rolled out the bookmobile without the satellite dish at first and some of our routes did not get any patrons. I listened to my staff and made better decisions, knowing that if I let my ego run wild when I was wrong, the project would have failed. We changed our routes to places with the most need with much more success.

I trusted my vision to see the project through. I knew the dish wasn't working, but that the fix would be simple if I could just take some time with the vendor's tech support and do it. I knew right at the end it was make or break and I took a day just to make it work, and it did. We went out this month with wireless internet access. It was fun because it went just how I had envisioned it. We had a bookmobile stop at an adult education location where classes were held. When the class let out, we had books and materials for their GED and language acquisition assistance AND we had wireless internet access with ten laptops set up on a picnic bench right outside their door. They flocked to us when class let out. The project was a success.

The funny part was that I didn't realize there was such a negative outlook on the project. It is probably best not to hear your worst critics in the earliest stage of the project, especially if the comments are not constructive. I actually heard that people thought it was harebrained from another city staff member. They told me this while I had the van ready, the satellite dish running, people on our public access laptops with internet, and people checking out books. I was still upset at first, but then realized that I shouldn't be, since I was right and these above lessons helped make it happen.


Jen said...

Jeff, thanks for sharing this story. I think the biggest challenge any of us face is finding the courage to try something we really believe in, even when the people around us think it's nuts. Even harder: listening to constructive criticism concerning a project you are passionate about. I don't know that I could handle it with the grace that you did! :)

I will keep this story in mind when I launch my latest heresy: allowing patrons to have their coffee in the lobby of the library. I'm not brave enough yet to tackle allowing it in the browsing area...

Jen Hinderer, Director
Tewksbury Public Library

Jeff said...

Its always hard to try something new. I did get a nice comment from a patron stating how happy she was that we are such a progressive library. Coffee in the lobby sounds great! I would love a coffee shop here! Thanks for the comments I appreciate it.