He was introduced to golf before he was two years old; he shot a 48 on nine holes at the age of three; appeared in Golf Digest at the age of five; and he eventually won his first major championship 16 years later.
In his prime, people would say that Tiger Woods was born with a gift to play golf. Yes, he was naturally talented, but he also had a putter in his hands at six months old. And by the time he won his first major professional tournament at 21, he already had nearly 20 years of practice under his belt.
Athletes, at any level, don’t merely show up for a round of golf or a game. They train, they workout, and they analyze their performance. Athletes find new techniques and new ways to improve. Over the course of weeks, months, and years they continually practice to make themselves the best at their trade. The same applies to those in the business world.
For me, I started my first business when I was eight years old. I handed out flyers selling coupon books for my soccer team, and it taught me about work ethic. I started JNS Landscaping, and it taught me how to get and sell business. I worked as a youth soccer referee, and that taught me about handling stress. I became a babysitter, and that taught me about taking responsibility in difficult situations. I worked at In-N-Out Burger, and that taught me how to work in a fast-paced, high-stress job while handling customer interaction. In particular, In-N-Out spent a lot of time and resources on training programs to help employees practice and improve their skills. To get a promotion, you had to put that practice into use and a manager had to sign off.
Through these jobs, I never stopped learning, I never stopped improving, and I never stopped practicing the skills that would prepare me for the next day, or the next job, or my next goal. Just as Tiger Woods possessed certain abilities that made him great at golf, I had certain characteristics that made me good at business. But those “gifts” only carry you so far. So much more of a person’s success comes down to practice.
In the most competitive economy in human history, if you aren’t practicing your craft, you’re going to fall behind. You’re competing against people from all over the world who want to succeed and are practicing their skills daily.
I don’t simply read the newspaper or a couple of self-help books and expect that I’m going to get better at my job, or advance in my career. Much more comes down to continually applying myself and practicing my craft. Just as I’ve done since I was 8 years old, and since Tiger Woods was just an infant, we’ve never stopped practicing.
Some of the ways I practice my trade and my skills are by getting involved in organizations and events that increase my exposure to other peers and experts in the industry. I put myself around mentors, who become coaches in helping me to practice and improve my craft, while growing my knowledge base. Forums, discussions, and real world experiences are going to make you into a successful business person.