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July 14, 2015

Everybody Needs a Coach

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Fred Muller is one of the best golf club professionals in the world.  Fred has been the head pro at Crystal Downs Country Club, one of the best golf courses in the world, for 39 years. He lives in his genius as much as anyone I know. He is a pro’s pro and he’s my pro.

Last night I wandered into one of my favorite local restaurants in Frankfort, Michigan where my wife, Debbie and I spend our summer. To my surprise and delight Fred was sitting at the counter having a glass of wine. Fred introduced me to his friends who were joining him for dinner. I took my seat at the counter to enjoy an evening’s meal and a little reading.

The counter is small enough that it was impossible not to hear the conversation between Fred and his guests. At one point Jerry, who had just met Fred, mentioned that he had taken up golf and was becoming quite passionate about it. He also mentioned that, though he didn’t want Fred to take offense, he was committed to one thing about his golf swing. That one thing was that he would never take a golf lesson. Remember he is saying this to a man who has mastered and taught the golf swing to thousands of people from toddlers to tour professionals.

Jerry played college baseball and he said he learned from playing baseball that most coaches gave him bad advice and that he alone knew what was best for him. He was applying the same reasoning to golf. There are many bad teachers and he would be the expert on his own golf swing.

Fred listened to Jerry wax on about his golf swing and only mentioned that the golf swing is a complicated and unnatural physical move and that Steve might be served by having a good pro give him one or two lessons just to make sure his fundamentals were right.

At this point, Jerry, undaunted by Fred’s expert comments and wanting to prove he was right that he and he alone would be his swing coach produced a video of his swing on his phone. He showed the video to Fred and after watching it once Fred said in a playful and poking way, “Take a golf lesson.” Fred’s next comment was that Jerry’s hands were in a bad position at the top of his back swing and that his compensation to fix this in the rest of his swing would cause him problems.What was so fascinating and familiar to me is that Jerry didn’t ask Fred a single question.

Not one. Not, “What’s wrong with my hand position?” Or, “what pro should I visit in L.A.?” Even after Fred mentioned that he was friends with the head pros at two of L.A.’s most famous golf courses. Jerry just continued to assert the value of being your own coach.I left the restaurant smiling and thinking to myself that every conscious leader needs a coach. Just like the golf swing, being a conscious leader is a complicated and unnatural move. And just like Fred, a great conscious leadership coach can look at your life and give you one or two pieces of feedback that can open whole new doors of power, freedom and effectiveness. If you don’t have one, get a good coach if you want to be a great leader.

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