If you are planning to attend the Golf Industry Show this year, my advice for you is brief and simple – get uncomfortable.
I know, that does not sound like much fun. After all, many of you have just went through another year of dealing with demanding bosses, unrealistic customers and finicky Mother Nature. You want a break and some downtime. There is no opening in your day planner for being uncomfortable.
But the truth is, making yourself uncomfortable is a means to improve performance and gain personal fulfillment. In the early 1990s, psychologists Robert M. Yerkes and John D. Dodson set out to measure performance relative to one’s comfort level. What they found is performance is optimized when there is an appropriate level of anxiety present.
We often hear coaches talk about their teams playing with a bit of an “edge” so as to not be overconfident or complacent. In fact, they put them in uncomfortable situations in practice so they are prepared in the event they face an increased level of anxiety in game situations. Basketball coaches preparing their team against those that full court press will often practice with seven players on defense to intensify the effect of the pressure they will feel.
If we know that some anxiety can lead to improved performance, why do we choose to remain in our comfort zone? The same research says we do it to “avoid stress and anxiety; we lack faith and optimism; we do it for fear of failure or to avoid mistakes; and we do it for safety and security. But the truth of the matter is breaking out of our comfort zone actually helps to elevate performance with inspiration of creativity and innovation; expansion of knowledge, skills and confidence; enhancement of concentration, energy and focus; and attaining the optimal performance zone.”
So, how does this apply to those attending the Golf Industry Show? You might be saying to yourself that you do a good job. You are well respected and are not in any jeopardy of losing your position. That is the problem, according to noted author Jim Collins – “good is the enemy of great.”
How many times have you taken the same cool-season turf class from the same professor year after year? I have no doubt the course is of high quality, but perhaps you might consider taking a warm-season turf seminar to grow your knowledge base. Who knows, there might be a career opportunity that comes your way and having the expanded knowledge might help you get the position.
Maybe you have decided to not engage in social media to this point in your career. Why not attend a session on how to use Twitter? Maybe you will find that you have a new means to communicate more effectively with key audiences with whom you interact.
For those who are quiet and tend to keep to themselves, make it a point to expand your network. Identify a handful of superintendents who have achieved a level of success and meet with them to pick their brains. Get away from the crowds and buy them lunch or coffee. Ask questions, take notes and listen. Learn from others what makes them successful.
As important as it is to keep learning new “whats,” it is just as important to keep learning new “hows.” Critical thinking is a valuable skill that must be continually nurtured. By exposing ourselves to new concepts, ideas and people, we expand our creative and analytical processes. The brain is not a muscle, but it must be exercised to keep it functioning highly. Getting uncomfortable often requires us to think in a new way or consider an alternative viewpoint.
I am not sure when a “young” dog becomes an “old” one, but I have always thought it was more a state of mind rather than an actual number. We should never let ourselves become old dogs. We can always learn new tricks. We should always strive to learn new concepts and ways of thinking. It keeps us on top of our game, personally fulfilled and more valuable to our employers.
Make that your strategy as you map out your week in San Antonio.