Golf Lessons: Part 2 – New Tech, Old Tech, Effective Tech

This is Lesson #2 in a three-part series about key lessons I have learned while practicing the sport of golf. Read Lesson #1 – Results Matter and Lesson #3 – Practice Makes Consistency.

We live in a wondrous time where computer technology is available for little to no financial cost. We have high-tech presentation assistants with a hundred functions, cloud-based training systems, and an offering of delivery software that makes PowerPoint look like an old slide projector. Every professional development conference hosts multiple sessions on the latest and greatest training tool.

Golf is no different. Equipment technology is evolving every year to help make average golfers play better without the extra practice time. Clubs are engineered to compensate for bad form or low physical power, allowing everyone to hit the ball straighter and farther without extensive practice. Golf is a difficult sport to master, so extra help from gear is generally well-received. For an example of this, just look at how drivers (the big club you hit off the tee) have changed over the decades.

Left - modern driver; Right - Persimmons wood driver
Left – modern driver, Right – old wood driver

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Golf Lessons: Part 1 – Results Matter!

I’m currently in my second year of having a “serious” relationship with golf. I am more attentive to my play and strive to perform better with every swing. This involves studying books about the game, watching training videos on swing mechanics, and putting balls into a coffee cup in my office.

Golf is the ultimate game of personal development. There are an infinite number of skill points to master, and always room for improvement. Each round on the course and every bucket at the driving range present a new learning experience, increasing both physical and mental acumen. For example, a brief practice session may focus on improving 50-yard pitch shots, but it also includes a subconscious lesson on concentration and restraint.

Besides the direct personal benefits that come from learning a sport, golf can teach us how to be better trainers and presenters. Here is the first in a series of three lessons from the fairway to help us iron out our efforts in the classroom. You can also read Lesson #2 and Lesson #3.

(If you’re completely unfamiliar with golf, check out this intro video from YouTube)

Golf Lesson #1: Results Matter

Everyone’s heard the common phrase, “it ain’t rocket science!” But for golf, it actually is! Dave Pelz, a former NASA space researcher, is regarded as one of the best golf teachers in the world, particularly when it comes to the short game (150 yards or less, and putting – the more “finesse” shots). He analyzed hundreds of professional golfers and thousands of golf shots, and engineered science-based methods for improving the average golfer’s game. In his most popular book, Dave Pelz’s Short Game Bible, he begins with an important mantra: the score is what matters.

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Crash Course Training Video #2: Health Insurance – Part I

The second video in my crash course training series is the first part of an overview on health insurance in the United States.

Part I of this series discusses how the general health insurance system works and touches on some big-picture concepts. Part II (coming soon) will focus on health insurance plans and how to understand benefits and coverage.

Crash Course Training Video #1: Family & Medical Leave Act

My first video in a series of crash-course trainings has been uploaded. This session is all about the Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and is geared towards new HR professionals or anyone who needs a refresher on the law.

This is great timing, as the Department of Labor recently updated its advisory guide and posters to help employers and employees better understand the rules and requirements under the FMLA.


“Under Pressure” – Mitigating Pressures in Project Management

I recently delivered a training in which I was able to squeeze two David Bowie songs – a tribute to the late legend and a tactic to reinforce learning. My property professor back in law school used to drive home important concepts using pop songs. The songs had lyrics related to what we were studying; for example, Marvin Gaye’s “Can I Get a Witness” helped us remember evidence rules related to proving personal property rights.

Aside from ending with the obvious OD anthem, “Changes”, I headlined the training with the great Bowie-Mercury “Under Pressure” duet. We are all under some kind of pressure, both at home and in the workplace – family pressure to earn money to pay the utility bills, work pressure to finish a project before a deadline, or personal pressure to lose a few pounds put on during the holidays.

How do we mitigate these pressures so they don’t interfere with our project progress? Peter Block, in his book “Flawless Consulting” (2011), says that when the people we work with seem unmotivated towards a project, it is likely because they are under coercive pressure. This pressure can come externally from superiors placing restrictions and demands (i.e. strict budgets), or it could be internal fears or apprehension about losing control of the situation. For example, a business leader might want to hire a consultant to develop a new training curriculum for the company’s employees, but the leader may feel apprehensive about having someone outside the company take charge in such an important function.

Block writes that we have to ask questions of our project partners to identify the pressures they face. Once those forces are identified, we can change the project to relieve those concerns. For example, we can reduce the project scope to include only certain parts of the original plan. A training curriculum development project can be reduced to only designing a few of the most important modules. A plan to restructure a department can shrink down to a simpler data collection project. Once these pressure-relieving projects – “small-step projects” as Block calls them – are completed, we can go back to the drawing table and negotiate whether we should give the cut components another try.

Remember that in order to be successful change agents, we must address resistance to change. Apprehension is resistance, no matter how much support someone has for a project. Organizational leaders can be devoted to achieving the end goals of the project but still be reluctant to move forward, due to external and internal pressures. Even small pressures can derail the plan if not addressed. Take the time to discover the underlying issues and craft a solution that works for everyone.

We are all “Under Pressure” to be successful, but we can all be “Heroes” and hold great “Fame” among our colleagues when we find the right ways to make positive “Changes” in our organizations.