Lessons for Entrepreneurs from Sergio Garcia’s Win at The Masters
By SBE Council at 10 April, 2017, 1:31 pm
by Raymond J. Keating-
On Sunday, April 9, 2017, most of the golf world rejoiced at Sergio Garcia’s win at The Masters at Augusta National. Garcia was the latest top golfer to shed the sad title of “best golfer never to win a major tournament.” (Golf’s four majors are The Masters, US Open, British Open and PGA Championship.)
The journey for Garcia offers some lessons for entrepreneurs.
To put this in perspective, Garcia hit the golf world in spectacular fashion. At 19 years of age, he challenged Tiger Woods for the 1999 PGA Championship. One moment in that tournament, 18 years ago, remains etched in the minds of golf fans around the world. Garcia hit a ball from the base of a tree, and he sprinted into the fairway and leaped in the air to see the ball roll onto the green. He lost that major to Woods by a shot. But at the time, many assumed that Woods and Garcia would do battle for several major titles – with Garcia winning his share.
But it didn’t work out that way.
No doubt, Garcia proved himself to be an excellent golfer. Before this Masters, he had won 9 events on the PGA Tour, including The Players Championship (one step down from a major), and 12 tournaments on the European Tour. Hence, the moniker of “best golfer never to win a major.”
Yet, Garcia endured. Perseverance is a trait that entrepreneurs need, and Garcia persevered in working to get that major title.
Along the way, he wore his emotions on his sleeve. So, we heard him talk about his ups and downs, utter doubts, and declare his frustrations. Sergio Garcia’s journey has been a very real-world, human endeavor. It was not a sterile textbook case. In this sense, most entrepreneurs can identify with Sergio Garcia’s challenges, as well as his perseverance.
For good measure, Garcia’s efforts were rooted in reality. The late Peter Drucker, one of the great thinkers on business and management, offered seemingly countless insights for entrepreneurs. Writing at Forbes.com, Eric Wagner highlighted some points from Drucker, with a few applying to Garcia. For example, Drucker noted that “Those who perform love what they’re doing,” and “Successful entrepreneurs do not wait until ‘the Muse kisses them’ and gives them a bright idea; they go to work.” No doubt, Garcia loves the game of golf, and he works at it.
Drucker, however, also noted, “Most of the people who persist in the wilderness leave nothing behind but bleached bones.” That can be applied in multiple ways. There is the person who pursues an entrepreneurial dream that never goes anywhere because it is tragically detached from the individual’s true abilities and strengths. But that certainly was not the case for Sergio.
There’s also the entrepreneur unwilling to change course when needed. Most entrepreneurs discover that at some point along the way a shift in strategy is needed. Garcia in fact tried many things over the years, as he came up short at the majors, for example, previously finishing 12 times in the top five at majors, including four times in second place.
But at this year’s Masters, Garcia found the right strategy. For him, there always was the question about being able to control his emotions when needed at the majors. But Garcia was different this time. As The Wall Street Journal reported, “But the tension that had gripped Garcia in similar moments before was gone, replaced by a blend of confidence and patience that endured through bogeys and his worst shots. ‘Today I felt the calmest I’ve ever felt at a major Sunday,’ he said. ‘I knew I was playing well enough to make something happen.’ … [H]e said he started to come to terms with the bear that is Augusta National. Through its pitfalls, Garcia began to see opportunities. ‘I came to peace with it. I accepted what Augusta gives and takes,’ he said, only now fully appreciating just how much it could give.”
There is wisdom in such comments. Entrepreneurs – as well as managers and employees – need to understand and be confident in what they do, have patience, and see what opportunities the market offers.
Of course, the entrepreneurial venture often is quite different from the one journeyed by Sergio Garcia. After all, even before his Masters win, Garcia ranked as one of the best golfers on the planet, achieving tremendous success. His life’s work would have been a success if he never won a major.
The story for most entrepreneurs, though, often is quite different. Complete failure is not unusual when it comes to starting up and running a business, with support for one’s family at risk. But lessons and worthwhile insights that can help entrepreneurs come from widely different people and endeavors – including from Sergio Garcia persevering for some 18 years to win The Masters.
Raymond J. Keating is chief economist for the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council.
Keating’s latest book published by SBE Council is titled Unleashing Small Business Through IP: The Role of Intellectual Property in Driving Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Investment and it is available free on SBE Council’s website here.