Lose $1Million in 1 Day – and Still Become a Champion

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Focus. Focus. Focus.

I never thought that Rory McIlroy, a PGA golfer, would be the subject any article I ever wrote, least of all 2 of them.

What a difference a few years makes!

When I wrote about the Magic of True Grit, Rory appeared in an ignominious way.

What do you do when you totally screw up?

In 2011, Rory entered the final day of the Masters Tournament with a 4 stroke lead … and watched it quickly evaporate as his game imploded.

He shot 80 on that final day, the worst score of anyone playing on Sunday. He finished 10 strokes behind the winner, a Masters rookie, Charl Schwartzel.

(The Masters tournament doesn’t like to talk about such crass subjects as money … but the one day cost of that catastrophe to Rory WAS OVER  $1.3 MILLION!)

He was heartbroken over his performance that day, but held his head high with these words:

“You know, I’ll have plenty more chances.

I know that it’s very disappointing what happened today.

Hopefully, it’ll build a little bit of character in me as well.”

You’ll find that article handy if you want to test yourself against the 7 components of what it takes to have true grit.

Two simple trigger words did the trick

How did Rory earn this 2nd, even more unexpected article?

Roll the clock forward about 3 years … and on a recent Sunday, Rory won the British Open at the age of 25, becoming the 3rd youngest PGA player to ever win 3 of the 4 major PGA tournaments.

He led from pole to pole and while several players got within 2 strokes, Rory demonstrated that he’s found the true grit to persevere and win it all.

What did he do differently this time around?

[pullquote]“If you chase two rabbits, both will escape.” ~ Unknown[/pullquote]

Before the tournament started, Rory told several commentators that he had a few triggers to help him get through the week … but that he wouldn’t reveal them until Sunday.

After his victory, the commentators couldn’t wait to uncover the triggers he was using.

The first trigger word was Process:

Rory was quick to offer the first of the two words: Process

Focus on process. Focus on … don’t care about the results. Just, really, get into the process.

It’s not a coincidence that in another article, Five Lessons for Success from the Crimson Tide, I talked about the dominating force of Nick Saban, arguably the most successful college football coach in history, winning 3 national championships since he arrived at Alabama in 2007.

What do Nick Saban and Rory McIlroy have in common?


In a CBS 60 Minutes segment featuring the coach, Saban called his system, “The Process.” (Starts at about 3:30 in the video.)

In his system, he tells his players,

Ignore the scoreboard. Don’t worry about winning. Just focus on doing your job at the highest level – on every single play – and the wins will come.”

Saban’s view is that his system is both the simple way to do it … and the easiest.

For us, it means we need to focus on taking care of our employees and customers at the highest level possible … and if we do that, sales and profits will follow.

Think Like a Child

Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, authors of the fabulously successful Freakonomics series and blog, just published Think Like a Freak, applying their unconventional process and unique analysis of disparate subjects to help us become better problem-solvers.

In Chapter 5, Think Like a Child, they extol the virtues of thinking like an 8-year-old.

They’re “relentlessly curious and relatively unbiased” they explain, and while their questions can be simple, they don’t have the preconceptions that prevent most of us from examining new ways of doing things.

They go on to say that channeling your inner child allows you to ask simple, smaller questions that lead to greater success.

The 2nd trigger word was Spot

Rory went on to describe his 2nd trigger word: “Spot”.

“Spot is for my putting. Just pick your spot, roll over your spot.

That was it.

Process and Spot … the only 2 words I had in my head for the 4 days.”

Rory had figured out what eludes many of us most of the time … or eludes most of us much of the time?

The K.I.S.S. Principle

Lovely boyWho doesn’t know about the K.I.S.S. Principle?

And who among us doesn’t need it plastered all over us to remember that the simplest answer is, well, the simplest … and most likely to get implemented.

What we so often miss is that while we might have some amazingly elegant solutions, they’re worthless if they can’t be implemented.

If you’ve every swung a golf club or a baseball bat … thrown a football, shot a basketball … trying to remember more than just a couple of things when executing that action just creates a jumble in your head … and inevitably fails to produce the result you were seeking.

Keep it short … sweet … simple

Whether you’re playing a sport, teaching a group or preaching to the choir, keep your message short … sweet … and simple.

Focus on just a few swing thoughts when you’re trying to get something done.

It will maximize your effectiveness.

Focus. Focus. Focus.

Some might say that Focus is the kissing cousin of Simplicity.

I’d say they’re more like blood brothers or sisters.

They may really be conjoined twins.

Think about it.

Do you think you’re able to focus intently on a complex problem … or on 10 different things at the same time?

You’re not.

Focus on bite-size portions

But, you can focus on small, bite-size elements of a complex problem as you think through its various components.

Thinking about the entire problem will invariably stall as your thought process becomes thick and jumbled trying to sort out all of the components.

Take another look at 4 Ground Rules to Make Sure You Reach the Summit to get a head start on creating the base camps that will help you successfully attack a complex problem.

Simplicity and Focus are the keys to problem solving

Simplicity and Focus are not only the keys to problem solving, but they’re the keys to communication – both of which are essential if we are to build an effective and successful organization.

Focus your message on just a few things … 3 is often the magic number … and people will leave actually remembering what you said.

To get your ideas implemented in a team or organization, you need the help of others … and they need to understand your idea clearly if it’s ever going to take root and create value.

Make it much more complex than that, and people will start to get lost, … and leave with a jumble in their head that will translate into inaction because they aren’t clear on what needs to get done.

Process. Spot. K.I.S.S. Simplicity. Focus.

[pullquote]“Most of what we say and do is not essential. If you can eliminate it, you’ll have more time, and more tranquillity. Ask yourself at every moment, ‘Is this necessary?’” ~ Marcus Aurelius[/pullquote]

As your week unfolds, give this a try.

To get started, identify one of the initiatives you’re struggling with. Maybe start with something you’re trying to do just for you.

Try this one.

Take a common personal productivity problem – making all of your phone calls, including returning the ones that are still unanswered.

Instead of looking at that long list, convinced that you’ll just never get it done, focus instead on Process & Spot.

Put Process & Spot to work right now

The Process is to just focus on one phone call at a time. Pick your Spot and call the first name on your list.

Move on to the 2nd one. Ignore the long list with the certainty that the list will reduce itself as you make your calls.

Don’t think, “I have 25 calls to make, I’ll never get it done” ….

Think, “I’m going to make this first call and get one out of the way.”

Stick to the Process. Make one call at at time. Then the next one.

Sure, you may not get to all of them, at least not today, but you will make the progress you didn’t make when you saw that long list sitting on your desk.

Simple, huh?

Question: What is your experience with substituting Process for Results? How have you applied this in your organization?

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