This past weekend, the world witnessed one of the most spectacular rounds of golf in the history of major golf championships. Phil Mickelson shot a 66 in the final round of the British Open and won the tournament by three strokes. He played brilliantly, birdieing four of the last six holes. When the final putt dropped on number 18, Mickelson raised his arms in triumph, embraced his caddie, and then walked off the green and into the arms of his wife and three children.
He had done it. He had claimed one of the most prestigious titles in all of professional sports. The announcers were beaming. The crowd was cheering wildly. Cameras were capturing a win for the ages.
As a trainer, there are some observations that come to mind. Mickelson did not win the British Open simply because he played a great round of golf. He won because he had played thousands of rounds of golf. He won because he spent hours on the practice tee, hitting the same shot over and over until he grooved a swing that could be replicated when it counted. He also intentionally made some decisions that contributed to his success. They are worthy of consideration for those who lead in local government:
- Champions have a coach. Butch Harmon has been Mickelson’s coach since 2007. Harmon has coached other greats like Tiger Woods and Greg Norman. Do you have a coach? Is there another set of eyes on your work? Are you open to suggestions regarding work habits, areas of improvement, etc.?
- Champions continuously improve. Phil Mickelson credits a new three wood in his bag as a game changer. He had won tournaments in the past with other clubs, so why change? He changes because he understands the importance of constantly evaluating equipment and leveraging new technology to his advantage. Do you take time to evaluate ways to improve? Are you successfully leveraging technology to save time, money, and other resources?
- Champions have great team members. Phil has had the same caddie for 21 years. While technology can be tweaked and leveraged, people can be one of our most valuable constants. Who is walking beside you offering counsel and encouragement along the way? Who provides the steady voice and consistent presence that reminds you to stay focused on desired outcomes?
- Champions know the power of practice. Mickelson commented after the victory that he had been working harder than ever to achieve this goal. Obviously, his hard work paid off. What and how do you practice? How do you transfer that into desired outcomes?
Only a handful of individuals will ever be crowned British Open champions. However, all of us can imitate champion habits and become workplace game changers.