Why does the ball get into the bunker? (What is your area for development?)

One of the most memorable stories about personal development relate to Tiger Woods and golf. In the early 2000s, Tiger was the world’s number one golfer. Particularly in long shots and putt, he was in a class of his own. Tiger’s only major weakness was bunker playing, where he was statistically not even among the top sixty. After watching Tiger practice, people had pointed out that he was spending a lot of time practicing bunker shots. Lesson of the story; no matter how good you are at some things, you still need to correct your weaknesses. This story worked great until was asked:

“Why does that ball get in the bunker in golf?”
“Um … what?”
  “Yeah, why does that ball get in the bunker? Does the round start from there, will another player hit it there as a penalty or what? ”
  “No, it will go there if the previous shot fails.”
  “Well, wouldn’t it be worth practicing more of those shots that fail and cause the ball to go into the sand barrier, so it doesn’t happen?”

The question that often comes up in self-management and professional development is “Do I need to invest more in correcting my weaknesses or further developing my strengths?” Our longer-term choices for our careers must be based on our strengths. In our career, we should always choose the tasks that best suit our inherent strengths, personality, and values. When it comes to developing performance and results in the task itself, the answer is not always as simple as the example above illustrates. In this case, it is essential to ask:

“Investing on what things has the best value for me? Where does development have the greatest positive impact on overall performance? ”

Thus, “area for development” is the factor that investing in would create the greatest positive impact on overall performance.

You should also take into consideration two important factors in performance development:

  • Resources such as time, money and energy for personal development are limited; if you are going to get something done, you should focus on fewer things. “It is more useful to put three things a thousand meters ahead than a thousand things one meter.”
  • People are unique in their personality, inherent tendencies and values. Everybody can develop and learn, but not everyone can be good enough or excellent in all things. Development must therefore focus particularly on creating excellence in those essential areas where there is potential. If this guideline does not serve as a basis for development work, individuals, teams, and organizations will fail in their mission.

Tiger Woods’ coach at the time, Butch Harmon, was very aware of Woods’ weaknesses and strengths in the game. He was also aware of their impact on overall performance. Harmon set Tiger to practice bunker shooting until the level of those shots rose … … not to a great level, but to a good enough level. After that, the emphasis of training shifted to Tiger’s clear strengths; swing and long shots.

What is Your area for development?

Writer: Antero Ojanaho, Senior Consultant/Mazhr Oy (transl. Venla Tulppala)