It was 70-degrees and the sun was shining brightly on Super Bowl Sunday in January 1999. I was putting on green # 8 of Orange Park Country Club in Orange Park, Florida—a suburb of Jacksonville—with my son Tommie, then the assistant golf professional, and two of his member buddies.
“This is great, Tom. It’s in the mid-30s with snow on the ground back home in Iowa, and here I am, teeing it up for the first time this year.”
“How many times,” he asked, “did you golf last year, Pops?”
Thinking about it for a few moments, I replied, “Twice.”
“How old are you?”
Not sure what he was getting at since he knew darn well that I had just turned the ‘double nickel,’ I dutifully answered, “Fifty-five.”
That’s when he hit a bulls-eye, “What are you waiting for?”
To this day, and it’s been eight years as I write this, I cannot fully explain why that question hit me so hard. Perhaps the fact that my oldest brother, Mike, had died from cancer at that age. Maybe I realized, but I wouldn’t admit that my work/play life was out of balance. Whatever the reason, I made Tommie a promise on the spot.
“Next spring, when the weather warms up in Des Moines, I’m going to begin golfing regularly. I’ll go out at least twenty times, which will be ten times as much as 1998.”
The actual numbers? I saved my scorecards that spring, summer, and fall and proudly told him in a November 1999 phone call that I had golfed 41-times in 1999! That grew to 43 in 2000 and 45 in 2001. I have long since quit counting—no need to. A wonderful change of lifestyle has become a habit.
The message for you as a small-business owner is two-fold:
1. Don’t ever underestimate the power of thoughtful questions in your daily interaction with customers, prospects, and employees. It is almost magical to let them come to their conclusions rather than you trying to pound home a point by lecturing. This technique was created by Socrates and is known as the ‘Socratic Method.’ You will achieve your goals more quickly with less stress by developing this skill-set.
2. And of equal importance, if there’s something that you should be doing to make your professional or personal life better, I have a question for you, “What are you waiting for?”