Spring is here, tax season is over, the sun is out, it is time to get out on the course and hit the little white ball into the hole 400 yards away.
That begs the question, why is this game so difficult? Its concept is incredibly simple, but the execution is so difficult. This sounds eerily similar to the question that many CPAs ask after a project's budget was blown. So, what do the professional golfers know that professional accountants can take from the course back to the office?
1. It takes practice. Adam Scott didn't say to himself on a Monday that he wanted to win the Masters and by Sunday win it. Adam practiced for years, taking in hard lessons over the years (such as the 2012 British Open). Let's not leave it at just practice. It takes focused, intense, mentally engaged practice. Consider the 10,000-hour rule! This practice is not just hitting golf balls on the range. It's analyzing swing mechanics, developing positive habits, working on the appropriate diet, and challenging their bodies so that golfers are ready to make a run on the weekend rounds. CPAs should be consistently practicing to enhance their abilities and overall ability.
2. It takes patience. Every golfer is not Tiger Woods, a golfer who takes the scene by storm. There are good days and there are bad days. Professional golfers typically have to qualify for the PGA by way of tournaments that don't possess the biggest crowds or, for that matter, the big prize money that we expect professional golfers to make. CPAs are typically not ready to take on the biggest and most complex clients on the first day out of college. Start on something easy, find your stride, find your passion and then go take what you want.
3. It takes confidence. Rory McIlroy didn't hit clutch shot after clutch shot during his blowout of the field at the 2011 U.S. Open just because he was hitting the ball well that week. No, he blew the field out of the water because he hit the ball well and had the confidence to hit the difficult level shots. He knew what he was capable of doing, and he did not let anyone get in his way of doing it. It takes more than just a sweet golf swing to beat 100 other golfers during a tournament. As a CPA, believe in yourself, because if you don't, who will? Find your strengths and use them to enhance your value. Recognize your weaknesses and find a teammate to help you in covering those areas.
4. It takes mental toughness. Sergio Garcia was once considered to be an equal with Tiger Woods. Sergio's game was on par with Woods' when they were just coming on the tour. The difference over the last 15 years has been reflected in the mental toughness that Sergio lacks. When the fourth round comes, the pressure is on, and Sergio wilts.
As a CPA, it is important to be strong on a daily basis, but when a client, your staff or your family depends on you, that is the time you have to be at your best. Enhance your mental toughness by testing your limits in something outside of the accounting field (for example, consider broadening your horizons and running a 10-kilometer race this year).
5. It takes creativity. Remember when Bubba Watson hit a hook shot from the 15th hole rough to seal the win at the 2012 Masters? That is creativity. Golfers oftentimes face situations that require creativity in order to be resolved.
CPAs are consistently solving new and unique problems. Yes, there are often consistencies among the problems that you face, but it is important to treat each situation individually. Consider the solutions that you have provided in the past and consider alternatives to the solutions you presented. It sounds clichÃ©d, but think outside the box!
The best CPAs are not the ones who possess the greatest natural ability. Like professional golfers, the highest-level CPAs are the ones who combine practice, patience, confidence, mental toughness, and creativity along with their natural ability.
Next time you find yourself on the golf course, consider all the opportunities you have to learn on the course and bring those ideas back to your office!
Adam Blitz, CPA, is a tax and consulting manager at Wiebe Hinton Hambalek LLP in Fresno, Calif. He holds an MA in Leadership Studies from Fresno Pacific University, and authored a thesis titled, The Leading CPA -- The Value of the Leading CPA. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @getblitzed.
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