As I get older, um, I mean, as I get… more experienced, I find myself with increasing opportunities to advise and mentor younger executives. Currently, I have the privilege of being an investor in and an advisor to a start-up business led by a very dynamic young woman. She is bright and driven and creative. And, she is also way too hard on herself and still developing her “corporate persona”. I was speaking with her the other day as she was in the middle of a very frustrating development and struggling a bit to “find her footing”. I gave her one simple piece of advice that I have followed for 30 years – Swing Your Swing.
Outside of God-given talent, what is the one thing that separates the truly great performers in business and in life? Authenticity. The truly greats are not copycats. They are not “wannabes”. They are not “wish I was”. They are authentic. They are not afraid to be themselves. They challenge the conventional wisdom. The George Bernard Shaw adage – “There are those that look at things the way they are and ask why? I dream of things that never were and ask why not?” – is not just a graduation speech line to them. They actually do ask, “Why not?” and then go figure it out.
Mary and I went for a hike the other day in the Santa Rosa mountains in California (one of the benefits of all the golf courses being closed is actually getting reacquainted with my wife). Even though I hike on a regular basis, this hike took place right after I gave my colleague my incredible wisdom to “Swing Your Swing”. It hit me that – at some point in the past – there was no trail where I was hiking. Some intrepid explorer looked at the mountain and blazed a trail where no one had ever gone before. As you look at your business and your career, do you see a safe, well-worn path or do you see a new trail to blaze? As you look at your family, do you see the conventional wisdom of deteriorating values or the authenticity of your own standards?
By the way, authenticity does not mean “go for broke”. It means being true to yourself. Don’t forget, Roy McEvoy (aka “Tin Cup”) was authentic. He also hit five balls in the water and lost the U.S. Open. Being authentic is not a recipe for sure-fire short-term victory. It is a road map for long-term success.
Even though I have followed this principle for more than 30 years now, it was not until 2013 that the concept became encapsulated for me. As I watched a golf tournament on TV one day, I heard the voice of Arnold Palmer…
“Swing your swing.
Not some idea of a swing.
Not a swing you saw on TV.
Not that swing you wish you had.
No, swing your swing.
Capable of greatness.
Prized only by you.
Perfect in its imperfection.
Swing your swing.”
Ever since then, I have “heard” the same thing from the most interesting subset of people – from Jack Welch and Steve Jobs, from Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, from Pat Ryan and Hank Greenberg, from George Bush and Barack Obama, from Pope John Paul and Pope Francis, from Ghandi and Nelson Mandela,
And, from Natalie Marcon and Fred Marcon – “Swing Your Swing…
I Know. I Did.”
Thanks to Dick’s Sporting Goods. If you want to see the actual commercial, here it is… https://www.ispot.tv/ad/72KL/dicks-sporting-goods-swing-your-swing
MICHAEL C. MARCON IS THE CHAIRMAN OF M3K HOLDINGS, LLC (WWW.M3KLLC.COM) AND NONNO TO PENELOPE AND HENRY.