You Can’t Play Golf on a Tennis Court

can't play golf in tennis court

Imagine trying to explain the game of golf to someone while standing on a tennis court. They won’t be able to fully grasp the game.


The context is off.

If the context is off in this example, what difference might context make in your decision making?

Consider that if you make decisions in the context of fear or scarcity, your actions will align with fear and scarcity.

This reminds me of the story of the business owner who owns a training company. He worked 18 hour days. He was trying to do everything himself.  He was not only bringing in new client contracts, he was trying to execute the training contracts, too.

Out of frustration and exhaustion, he set up an incentive program to compensate his employees who brought in referrals.

One day, the business owner’s mentor asked him how his new referral program was working. The business owner was discouraged.

The mentor asked the business owner if he was holding employees to their promises on the number of referrals they would bring in and reviewing those promises on a consistent basis? The business owner replied that he was not holding his employees to account.

When the Mentor asked what the business owner was afraid of, the business owner replied, “If I hold my team accountable they might leave and they might get angry. I would continue to work 18 hour days.”

Mentor: In that context, who benefits?

Business Owner: Nobody.

Mentor: So, let’s take a step back for a moment. What is the contribution your business makes in the world?

Business Owner: We change lives through our training. Families who had a lot of conflict, have tools that change their family dynamic for the better.

Mentor: So you change the lives of families. What’s possible if you and your employees took action inside of the context of transforming family lives?

Business Owner: [Brief Pause] If my employees were in touch with how much our training changes the family dynamic, getting referrals almost seems easier.

Mentor: As the business owner, when you don’t hold your employees to account on a promise that they made, what are you telling your employees?

Business Owner: I’m telling them that they aren’t capable. And, I know they are!

Mentor: If you hold them to account on the number of referrals they promised in the context of changing lives what does that make available for your employees?

Business Owners: It changes everything! It sounds more fun! Now they have a context of how their jobs relate to our contribution to family life and the value we bring to our clients.

When you take action inside of the context of your contribution, it’s like playing golf on a golf course. When you make decisions inside of the contribution (not the limitations, fear or scarcity), you’ll be setting up a game everyone wants to play.