This week is a special one in my family…it’s time for the 120th U.S. Open Golf Championship. As a young boy growing up, I loved watching my golf heroes like Watson, Nicklaus, Norman, Couples, Stewart. Every year on Father’s Day, I would sit and watch with my dad (a personal hero of mine) and dream about how amazing it would be to stand there with that trophy in my hands after enduring what is commonly known as the toughest test a golfer can face.
The rough is deep, greens are lightning fast, fairways narrowed, ground is firm and all while staring the pressure of performing on one of golf’s biggest stages right between the eyes. It takes a special mindset to successfully navigate the challenges of the U.S. Open.
Golf has played such an important role in my life and I have learned so much from the game personally and professionally. Personally, it has taught me patience, sportsmanship and how to stay positive through adversity. Professionally, it has perhaps taught me even more…integrity, perseverance/mental fortitude, preparation, and a thirst to overcome the seemingly impossible.
As we slowly start to see the U.S “Open” again with small businesses trying to get back on their feet, schools getting back in session, football kicking off, markets trying to make sense of what lies ahead, and the country facing the challenges of treating others with respect and dignity, I can’t help but think of the lessons I’ve learned on the course and use them to guide me.
Integrity – Act always as if one of your heroes is watching you.
Perseverance – Know that change is guaranteed. Nothing stays the same forever and we need to have the mental fortitude to get through tough times.
Preparation – Relentless preparation for multiple outcomes in capital markets, and in life, will be the foundation for future success.
Thirst to Overcome – Remember… motivation is fleeting, but drive and desire are permanent.
The late Payne Stewart was a glowing example who exhibited these traits 21 years ago at the 99th U.S. Open when he holed that famous putt on the 18th green at Pinehurst No. 2 to beat a young Phil Mickelson by one stroke. Every year, Payne would prepare relentlessly, motivating himself to win a major. Ultimately, it was his innate drive to win that persevered, and in the end, pushed that putt over the front edge of the hole.
After the putt, he immediately went over to a young (and soon-to-be new father) Mickelson and held his face. He showed what many in the golf world consider to be one of the greatest selfless acts of integrity by a golfer after winning a major tournament—he consoled him by saying “you’re going to be a father,” as if to say, “It’s OK Phil, you have bigger things coming.”
We also have bigger things coming, as we move closer toward the U.S. “Open-ing.” I encourage all of us to take a step back, practice what the game of golf has taught to so many, and imagine “holding the trophy” after persevering through what has proven to be one of the greatest tests our great nation has faced.
Read our last blog post, Balancing in a Crisis >