“Nothing is more common than unsuccessful men [and women] with talent.”– Calvin Coolidge

Last month, I talked about an article written by James Leath, the former Head of Leadership and Character Development at IMG Academy and the Founder of Unleash the Athlete, titled Talent gets you noticed, character gets you recruited. In the article, he told a story that talks about the “value adding difference” character brings to make talent work. These character traits I covered were:

  • What are you doing when you think no one is watching?
  • Are you one thing in person, and another person online?
  • Who are your biggest influences?

If you missed it, here is last month’s article

This month, I would like to go over three more of Leath’s valuable coaching observations, as well as how you can incorporate the lessons into your own careers.

Are you a great teammate?

Leath again tells a story in his article about a very talented linebacker who was good enough to be recruited to a strong D-1 college football program. During a visit by a recruiter (who was dressed “in plain clothes”), this athlete was helped by his teammates over and over, but wasn’t willing to spot and encourage his teammate during a weight room workout. When he was told to help his teammate, he did, but only at first. Quickly, he was back on his phone, ignoring his teammate and not helping at all. Once the workout was over, he selfishly left his teammates to clean up the workout area. The recruiter observing this said, “…We look for guys who can be trusted to do the things after being told once…The prospect headed straight for his cleats and walked out the door, never even making eye contact with me, and leaving his teammates to clean up and rack the weights. Definitely not a good fit for our culture.”

Applications to your golf career path:

  • Again, your teammates are watching, and they are likely open to others about your selfless or selfish approach to the team. These stories, often based in fact, can become brands that people, employers and others believe about you.
  • Are you willing to share in the effort? Do you make sacrifices for the betterment of the team? When others do it for you, do you show gratitude?

Do you make a good first impression?

Leath shares, “One of the first things I teach all my athletes is the art of the handshake. Firm grip, eye contact, be fully present while you introduce yourself.” Leath tells a story about a new student who was booed by classmates because he “sucked at entering a room” and had a “dead fish handshake.” Then, he tells, (after some coaching) how “the large man destined for the NBA walked in, smiled, and walked across the room with purpose. He shook my hand, looked me in the eye, and introduced himself clearly. The room full of other large men erupted in cheer.”

Applications to your golf career path:

  • We are definitely in “the people business” so a good first impression matters. Looking people in the eye, shaking hands the right way and doing so with a purpose matters.
  • How you interact with people (customers, members, teammates, etc.) goes a very long way to building trust, especially when it’s intentional and authentic to who you are.

Do you “sweep the shed?”

Leath then celebrates the winningest team in the history of modern sports, New Zealand All Blacks in rugby. They boast an unmatched 86% winning percentage and numerous championships to their name. Leath shares that “In the outstanding book, Legacy, written about the All Blacks, author James Kerr discusses one of their core values that epitomizes the selfless attitude. It’s called “Sweep the Shed.”

You see the goal of every All Blacks player is to leave the national team shirt in a better place than when he got it. His goal is to contribute to the legacy by doing his part to grow the game and keep the team progressing every single day…In order to do so, the players realize that you must remain humble, and that no one is too big or too famous to do the little things required each and every day to get better. You must eat right. You must sleep well. You must take care of yourself on and off the field. You must train hard. You must sacrifice your own goals for the greater good and a higher purpose. You must sweep the shed.

After each match, played in front of 80,000 plus fans, in front of millions on TV, after the camera crews have left, and the coaches are done speaking, when the eyes of the world have turned elsewhere, there is still a locker room to be cleaned…by the players!

If the New Zealand All Blacks are sweeping their locker room, then why aren’t you out there helping younger players, picking up cones, arriving first and leaving last, and setting the example for others? Are you leaving the uniform in a better place, or counting the days until they retire your jersey? You are always being watched, so sweep the shed.

Applications to your golf career path:

  • This is another hard one to add to, but this is really about the details…the details matter.
  • Why do details matter? Because, when we successfully handle the details, we tell the members, the customers, the event participants, our teammates, etc. they matter. The successful execution and follow-through on the details shows how much we care, and how much we care about the experience of those listed above.
  • “Sweeping the shed” can also show that we know how to finish – finish strong, with appropriate follow-through and follow up. (Again, this tells others how much we care and it often leads to more loyalty, support and reciprocity from others.)

Leath then quotes president Calvin Coolidge, who once said, “nothing is more common than unsuccessful men (and women) with talent.”

As your Career Consultant, and your business coach, I hope you found value in James Leath’s insights. I also hope to inspire you, and engage with you to help you find your best level of career success. I look forward to the chance to learn more about you, your facility and your career vision soon. To share your story or situation with me, please contact me directly.


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: Mkoch@pgahq.com Cell: 206/335-5260