It’s March and the 2018 golf season is just around the corner. As a green grass golf professional, I recall feeling excited, anticipation (and maybe a bit of dread) about how the season would unfold. At this point, the tournament, member event and buying plans are pretty much “dialed in.” Just a few tweaks to be made here or there in the execution phase.

We know these days when execution and delivering the result is a key focus, and it’s likely one of the facets we enjoy about the business. It’s those big event days, with the double shotgun or the member-member that we can really focus on the “script” and push aside the distractions that hit us every single day. The old golf professional job of the 80’s is as gone as some of our favorite pop stars are from the 80’s. In those days, there was only the phone and face to face. No email, no text, etc.

These days, distractions are truly everywhere. It’s a “high noise/low volume” environment for us (and for our customers/members.) These days, we are bombarded with numerous daily intrusions: urgent email, drop-in (or “drive by”) visits from customers/members, snap decisions that need to be made in “the heat of battle” and solutions when someone doesn’t keep their promise as we’d expected. Most of us now travel with technology that connects them to a running “noise stream distractions” and “to-dos” 24/7.

So, we know this right? Of course, we live it. What to try to do about it? We can’t stop the distractions. We can’t stop the “to-do list” from growing…or can we?

Daniel Goleman, author of FOCUS, The Hidden Driver of Excellence has written these statements:

Figure 1: Stephen Covey’s Four Quadrants | Principles of Effective Time Mgm’t

“This stream of distraction draws attention away from what’s immediately at hand; those seemingly urgent rings and alerts may not be crucial. Working to maintain clear focus on a task – despite intrusions – consistently occupies the brain’s circuitry for attention.”

My takeaways:

In order to deal with the distractions, we need to define them, then prioritize them. Using Stephen Covey’s “Four Quadrants,” we need to define whether the distraction is:

  • Important AND Urgent (Quadrant 1)
  • Important NOT Urgent (Quadrant 2)
  • Urgent NOT Important (Quadrant 3)
  • NOT Important or Urgent (Quadrant 4)

In looking at graphic, and the four quadrants, I must admit there are times when I go straight to Quadrant 4. I want to escape, I want to “zone out,” etc. There are times when that is appropriate, as it’s unreasonable to think that we can go 100% all of the time. When I do it at 11 am or 130 pm, it would seem I am making a choice. I am willfully allowing the distractions to limit my effectiveness. (This may be a direct result of being tired, being hungry, or experiencing some sort of pain/loss, etc.)

Planning so that I can manage based on priority (Covey’s definition: “Demand + Necessity”) is a key tactic for success. As is, starting early on the “hard issues” that I face.

  • “Putting off the tough stuff of the day, only makes them tougher.”
  • “Face the dragons when you’re sharp, your sword is sharp and you’ve got the fuel you need.”

Another Daniel Goleman statement is: “In “top-down” attention we actively decide what receives our attention. “Bottom-up” attention means we function mechanically, letting our focus be dictated by whatever grabs it. This bottom-up attention causes us to be ignorant of the preferences and blind spots in our unconscious minds. There is a place for this in life, of course – just not at work.”

My takeaways:

  • Choose today (and every day) what your attention will be based on. “Top-down” or “Bottom-up?” (Note 1: if you don’t choose, it will be chosen for you.)
  • Note 2: “Common symptoms of attention fatigue are lowered effectiveness, increased distractedness, and irritability.” [Do we address the symptoms, or consider how we can address the problem(s)?]
  • It would seem some good “Top-down” questions for each of us might be:
    • What should the priorities be for you each day and each week for success in 2018?
    • What preferences for my work-style are causing me to be drained to the point where I can’t focus on what I need to?
    • What blind spots do I have regarding my attention? What distractions are caused by me?
    • Am I seeking the “escape distraction” too often? Or rather, too soon on a daily basis?
    • If I’m a manager, does my staff have to deal with my irritability, my lowered effectiveness because I’m distracted and not focused? (There is a really good chance their effectiveness is challenged if your staff doesn’t see focus in you. How effective can my coaching be, if those I seek to lead see me as hypocritical to the area I am seeking to coach them on? )
    • What can I do to better delegate some of the “dragons” (I’m not anxious to face) to someone else, and trust them with?

In closing, I would strongly suggest we become more self-aware of how focused and/or distracted we are.

Figure 2: Customer Engagement “Three-Legged Stool”

Further, let’s start to focus our Quadrant 1 efforts on “driving value for our consumer” (the customer/member) so they engage with us, and with the facility we are leading. This is where the greater value lies for us in the eyes of our employers.

Simply put. Our greatest focus should be on: Driving more activated customers, better retention of customers and increasing our ability to recruit/acquire new customers. (See Fig. 2)

As your Career Consultant, and your business coach, I see “driving value for the consumer” as the key in bringing you greater job satisfaction, greater career stability and increased income. I hope you’ll give me the chance to learn more about you, your facility and your career vision in 2018…let me practice my own “focus habits” with you in a partnership relationship this year.


Monte Koch, PGA Certified Professional/Player Development | Career Consultant
PGA Career Services | PGA of America
Serving PGA professionals, employers in the Pacific NW & Rocky Mountain PGA Sections
Email: Cell: 206/335-5260

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