The smooth running of a business depends on many factors. You must work hard to succeed, but you must also have the ability to foresee adversity and be able to manage contingency. Risk management is as vital for company survival as for those golf players who are about to win a tournament but don’t do so for not being able to manage the unexpected.
There are many example of this in golf. One of the most famous cases was the one that involved Jean Van de Velde and his fateful finale in the 1999 Open. With only one hole left, he was about to win this major tournament, but maybe because of the tension of the moment, he made one bad decision after the other, that led to one of the most tragic situations ever seen in golf. It was as if Van de Velde, who had been playing a great tournament until then, had forgot to play golf.
This can happen to an entrepreneur even if the project seems to go as expected. All of the sudden, when everythings seems to run smoothly, something can go wrong; a bill not collected, a contract not signed, a client lost… Chaos and fear can block a businessman as it can block a golf player, unable both to make the right decision to accomplish their goals.
Phil Mickelson was known for his resounding failures at the final holes of the tournaments during the early years of his career as a professional golf player. His disastrous feats hogged the covers and were popular in the media. Nevertheless, Mickelson has developed the skill to overcome those bad strokes at the end of the tournaments and nowadays has one of the largest lists of triumphs of all times. The key to this successful career was learning from his mistakes and never stop improving, looking for a better performance.
This constant need of learning from mistakes and improving is also vital in business. A project plan can look great at the beginning, just as a young golf player dreams of reaching the PGA or the European Tour, but once you start, the world is different and what is hard is to make that plan come true.
Both in golf and business, it’s all about adapt or die, about being able to detect the root of the problem and find solutions that allow the project to continue. There is always a rival company waiting for you to make a triple bogey at the final holes, when there is a big project to be finished, a new deal ahead or a client about to be signed, so you must be ready for the unexpected.