I like to golf but I am not a good golfer. About a month ago, I got out to play my first round of the season with a golf pro buddy of mine named Scott. As I hacked my way out of a sand trap and then putted for a 6 on a picturesque par 3, Scott asked me a good question, "When was the last time you actually practiced your short game? And by practice I mean, really worked to systematically improve your technique through repetition and measurement of results?"
Well, it was clear to me--and to Scott as well--that I did not practice. It was clear that I had not bothered to take an honest look at what I was doing and put together a systematic approach to becoming a measurably better golfer.
So I said the only thing I could, "Three years ago I went to a Dave Pelz school. They taught me drills and techniques to make my game better. But I don't have time to practice. I am just hoping I still remember what they told me."
Scott's response stung a little. He asked, "How is that working for you?"
For some reason, I expected performance without practice. But I know better. I know that regardless of profession, professionals practice their profession. And I know that to get better at golf, I need to practice too.
About a week after my sand trap humiliation, I was talking to a business owner buddy of mine. He told me about his business, and the economy and some of the sales struggles he had been having recently.
Sensing an opportunity, I asked the question I had been waiting to ask, "Tom, how much time do you spend practicing sales?"
Tom said the only thing he could, "I took some training a couple of years ago. They taught me some systems and techniques designed to help grow my sales. But times are tough now, the market has changed, my competitors are better than they were, and I don't have time to practice. I am just hoping I still remember what they told me."
I hope my response stung a little. I asked him, "How is that working for you?"