Today I’d like to offer you my review of The Front Nine by Mike Vardy. In this book, Vardy uses the game of golf as an analogy to illustrate how we approach and launch projects (or start a new year) in business. His point is that we don’t have to begin a ‘new year’ on January 1st, which is typical for many of us, but that we can start a new year or new project any time we want.
Mike Vardy (of Productivityist) splits up a project — or a year — into 3 stages, mapped to a game of golf.
Stage One: The Drive
Stage Two: The Fairway
Stage Three: The Green
Let’s take a look at each of these for your business.
The Drive is the beginning of your project. At this stage, you survey the landscape and any possible obstacles to make sure that you start strong and end up in a good spot on The Fairway.
In both golf and business, this is where people spend most of their time, moving toward the goal, with obstacles (like rough grass, sand traps, water…) all around them.
To win at golf, you must avoid the obstacles and continue to make “strategic, efficient, and effective progress as you go.” Business is no different. Bad shots — or bad decisions — can land you in the trees, requiring a lot of extra swings to get you back on track.
Ah, that beautiful green, where you can see the flag just within reach. In your business, this is that last 10% of your fiscal year or project. When you reach this stage, the end looks so close, but sometimes finishing that last 10% seems to take just as much time and effort as the first 90% of the year/project.
Not only do you need to finish strong here, but you need to stop and reflect on the strategies that got you here. What went well, and what didn’t? What will you do different the next time?
Author Mike Vardy makes a lot of great points in the book, but I struggled with the golf analogy at times. I don’t golf and thus really didn’t connect with the analogy.
To me, this book seemed a little too heavy on the golf and a bit too light on business, unlike works like The Legend of Bagger Vance which had a story that included some golfing. In Bagger Vance I always felt firmly rooted in the story and not immersed in the golf element.
Despite the book being a bit golf-heavy at times, I think that there are some valuable points in here for anyone who strives for productivity and wants to consistently get strong project launches.
My favourite point in the book is that the first step, The Drive, is just that — make the first step and get started. Don’t freeze up over what lies ahead, what obstacles you may face, or what may happen. Gather appropriate information then start.
Way too many people just gather, gather, gather and try to pass off the gathering step as progress. Beyond gathering some very basic information, continuing this process is not progress — it’s procrastination.
My second big takeaway can be found in this quote.
“A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove . . . but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.” – The Front Nine
Live your eulogy and you’re not going to care if people thought you were a good coder/designer/yak farmer. You’re going to care that they knew you loved your family, friends and community.
So don’t let work push those priorities out of your life.