If you've become addicted to the sport of golf, like me, don't despair. There are very valuable lessons to learn from your pursuit of mastering the game of golf that directly apply to mastering the game of business.

You may have taken up the game of golf after you were no longer able to play baseball, basketball and football. With maturity, golf makes a lot more sense; it's easy to take on hitting a ball that's sitting still, isn't it?

Besides, your golfing buddies will have plenty of sage advice like, “Keep your head down,” “Keep your left arm straight,” or “Swing in a barrel.” But even the most well-meaning advice isn't always helpfu.

You may have dashed off to the golf course and hacked your way around. Maybe some days you actually hit some good shots. But after awhile, you came to realize that all your hacking around hasn't gotten you any closer to playing a good round of golf. It's easy to reach a mediocre level and either top out or regress.

In a moment of desperation, you bought a bunch of different golf books, you watched a whole bunch of golf videos, watched hours of golf instruction on television and bought a truckload of those goofy gadgets guaranteed to fix all that's wrong with your swing.

How did it go? Not so good, huh? Want to know why?

It's because all these different pieces of information from different systems and different sources actually conflict with one another. There's no integrated approach that makes it all work together seamlessly.

But, before we throw in the towel, we decide maybe one quick golf lesson will do the trick. You know, just one little lesson. Bad news is you probably ended up playing worse. Why? One quick-fix lesson only reveals how messed up things have become.

Without the long-term commitment to learning the game of golf, you're doomed to struggle. Is there any hope to find success in this sport?

Yes, buy a block of lessons from a good golf instructor, suppress your own ego, and recognize you'll struggle for a while as you make the needed corrections that will ultimately have the most lasting effects on your game. And, commit to practicing the right fundamentals for as long as you play the game.

Any good golf instructor will start you working on the key fundamentals. This will mean feeling uncomfortable while you disassemble all those bad habits you've developed on your own.

The wise golf instructor corrects your faulty grip, your faulty stance and posture, and actually teaches you how to swing the club back and all the way through to a powerful finish with some consistency.

But if you're thinking you'll leave the sessions feeling you've mastered this thing and you'll be well on your way to breaking 80 soon - you're in for more disappointment.

Unfortunately, most of us never achieve the game we want because it's too much hard work. It's not glamorous to practice the discipline of fundamentals no matter how much we know we need to. Instead, we figure there's something wrong with this teacher. And so begins the search for the golf teacher who can wave the magic wand and make it all better instantly.

Ain't going to happen! Want to know why? It can't be done with magic.

The great Jack Nicklaus had only one golf instructor for most of his golfing career. His name was Jack Grout and Nicklaus started taking lessons from him when he was just a teenager. Even when he was considered the best professional player in the world, he would return to his home course in Ohio. Guess what his teacher would have him working on? Fundamentals!

Every year they'd make sure Jack's grip was still correct, his posture and stance were correct, his backswing all the way to his follow-through was correct. Never did anything all that new. That's right. It was this unwavering dedication to mastering the fundamentals that made Jack a great player.

So what's this got to do with mastering your business?

Focus On The Fundamentals

Did you start out in business by rushing out to buy a truck and figuring this business thing can't be that difficult? You probably were a great technician who worked hard. Did it take a couple of years until you came to the realization that things at work weren't improving? In some cases, things were getting worse.

You may have read a bunch of trade magazines, you may have participated in trade chat rooms on the Internet, attended various seminars and figured all this business education will make your business run like a Swiss watch.

Not likely to happen.

The problem is to know what's useful information, what's not, and how to make it all work together seamlessly. Face it, there's no way all these different people writing different books, teaching different seminars and answering your questions differently in chat rooms can really present you with an integrated approach. Most of this information is actually conflicting.

You may have finally looked honestly at your business and decided it's time to bring in a consultant. If the consultant is any good, he will start out trying to disassemble the bad business habits you've built up over the years. And if he is really good, he will have you focus on the business fundamentals that every businessperson needs to master. His approach will provide you a completely integrated approach that solves the day-to-day challenges you face in business.

For the record, I offer an integrated approach that I call the Power Concept and it's covered in detail in my column, “How To Get Connected To The Power,” in the July 2004 issue of PM.

The key thing when working with any consultant is to develop trust. You want to work with someone who knows the business and can establish a long-term relationship. An excellent consultant becomes your business mentor. And the best becomes your life-long teacher who will probably bore you to death by constantly checking that you're doing the business fundamentals correctly.

The best way to find the right consultant is through recommendations. Interview a bunch of consultants and learn what their clients say about them. Create a questionnaire so you can compare their answers. Don't be in too big of a hurry; it's worth searching around a while to be sure. Your goal is to find a business consultant that you can commit to a long-term program that teaches business mastery by never compromising on the fundamentals.