It wasn’t my best…
The subject of accountability has come up in a lot of my conversations lately. It’s come up in topics and conversation completely unrelated, which I suppose suggests that accountability is probably pretty important. We’re all held accountable in one way or another, both at home and work, and I believe being held accountable is essential to being successful. Without accountability, it is hard to see how one can manufacture the internal motivation needed to be successful.
If I was being interviewed and was asked to describe a strength of mine, I would place self-accountability at the top of the list. I’ve always had a strong internal sense of what is right and wrong. More so, as I’ve moved into a career as a golf course superintendent, a strong sense of when I’m doing a good job, and when I’m not. I believe this self-recognition has thus far been vital to a successful career. By the time I’m held accountable by someone else, an employer, or employee, I’ve probably recognized the error, or deficiency and have already begun working out how to solve the problem. Stated another way; it’s working at getting better, before someone taps me on the shoulder and says; “you need to be better.”
For the past six years, I’ve been fortunate to have many opportunities to speak to audiences of my peers. It’s quite a humbling experience, when those who do what you do ask you to come and talk with, or teach them about your methods. It’s even more humbling when they look through a vast array of seminars and decide your seminar is worth the value they put on their education dollars. There is also a substantial level of accountability that comes from such a fact.
Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to speak on many different subjects. When asked to give a talk, my greatest level of discomfort comes when I have to give a particular talk for the first time. When finished with a talk, I self-assess, determining what needs to be done differently and how the talk can be improved the next time its given. The second time I give a talk, I’m generally more comfortable, because I worked to make it better. This is the same sort of assessment I make when it comes to the golf course. What was good, what wasn’t, what needs to be better and how do we get there, are conversations I have with myself and others constantly. For this reason, I feel every golf season and every talk I give are better than the one that came before-but that wasn’t the case with the last talk I gave.
About two years ago, friend and fellow golf course superintendent Thomas Bastis asked if I be interested in teaming up on a bentgrass management seminar for the Golf Industry Show (GIS). I was, and so we put together a proposal, submitted to GCSAA, which was excepted. We gave the talk at the 2017 GIS in Orlando and received mostly positive reviews; although one individual did take issue with my “unprofessional” dress. Prior to this year’s GIS, Thomas took a position as a tournament agronomist with the PGA Tour, and his new role didn’t allow him to attend in 2018. After some thought, and consideration towards adding a new co-speaker, I decided to teach the seminar myself.
Long story short-it wasn’t better than the previous version, at least by my own judgement. There are all sorts of reasons/excuses I could give, but the simple fact is, I didn’t make it better. I left the convention center that day feeling I’d let the attendees down. I encouraged interaction and questions, and there were a lot of questions and the discussion was excellent. However, I let the questions disrupt the flow and I felt as if I rambled too much. I received some nice complements on the seminar, and had some nice discussions afterward, but I couldn’t shake the feeling I hadn’t lived up to the expectations of those to whom I was accountable. The evaluations haven’t come in yet, but I suspect they will not be as good as they were in 2017. It wasn’t my best, I didn’t get better the second time around, and I’ve felt bad about it ever since.
But I will get better. Ever since San Antonio, I’ve thought about how to make the seminar better next year. How to offer those to whom I’m held accountable the greatest possible value and experience. I’ve got a great plan for next year; a plan I’m not quite ready to divulge, but a plan I believe is going to take the seminar to a wonderful next level.
Stay tuned and remember to always work at getging a little better.