• 2018-06-20

The difference between joes & pros

Dad wasn't home last Sunday to take his Father's Day phone call.  In typical Dad fashion, he was out working his side hustle and doing what he has always done to stay busy and productive as he approaches his 79th birthday this September.  It's not often you can picture soon-to-be octogenarian in the same sentence with "side hustle", but if you knew my Dad you would readily understand why.  You might say, I won the Dad lottery by getting to grow up while watching a real pro.Even when he didn't know I was paying attention.  Dad was born 7 minutes from the first tee at historic St. Andrews in Scotland. By the time he left the old country with a truckload of trophies, he was hailed as a golfing prodigy.  Stories of his exploits filled Scottish newspapers.  Eventually, he moved to Canada, turned professional at a club in Toronto and went on to post over 100 tournament victories, multiple course records, capture provincial titles, compete on national stages and be enshrined in a sports Hall of Fame.

In every sense of the word, Dad was a pro.

  • Never late for a tee-time.
  • Never a curse word or thrown club after a missed shot.
  • Never blaming anyone else but himself for a lousy round.
  • Always in control of his emotions in the heat of battle.
  • Always respectful of his opponents as well as the rules, traditions and spirit of the game.
  • Always working to improve his own game. 

We're now living in different cities about 1,000 miles apart so we don't hit the links that often, but the last time Dad and I went out for a round he was 77 years old and finished with a 75. For the record, he was a little miffed with himself that three-putting on three holes had cost him a chance to be even-par 72. When it comes to golf, I readily admit to being very much a "JOE" who can barely break 100, while Dad was and still is very much a "PRO". The difference between JOES and PROS also applies to the way we conduct ourselves off the course in our everyday business lives.  It's the way we deal with customers, clients and industry colleagues while representing the highest standards of our profession.  A version of this piece first appeared in March of 2016, however, recent events on social media are demanding that this is a subject worth re-visiting.   

Taking cues from a lifetime of observation, here are the Top 5 Differences between JOES and PROS.

#1 Vision

JOES:  Are short-term, insecure worry-warts who obsess over this week's sales results, landing the next gig while hoping for the "Next Big Thing" to take them to the promised land. They also focus a lot on what other people think.  

PROS: Have a long-time horizon and can see how the impact of their actions and decisions play out over years, decades and generations. A real Pro is in for the long haul; confident in the strength of their ideas that make it easy to ignore doubters and leave money and short-term victories on the table like Jeff Bezos or San Antonio architect Robert Hugman. Many critics laughed out loud and derided Bezos when he left his secure job on Wall Street to launch Amazon in the mid-90's. They did the same thing in 1929 when Hugman drew up his plans for what became known as the world-famous River Walk that makes San Antonio the envy of the world. 

Long before Amazon and Jeff Bezos, Hugman was breaking new ground and navigating uncharted waters by embracing:

a) Creativity over Compliance.

b) Thinking over Following.

c) Compasses over Maps.

d)  All of the above.

#2 Decision-Making

JOES: Rely on guides, maps, GPS and other forms of linear directions, permissions and paint-by-number instructions.

PROS: Trust their internal compass and tear multiple pages from the NIKE playbook and Just Do It.  While Joe frets about making sure everything is perfect and doing more research or taking that extra course, the real Pro will trust their instincts and pull the trigger like Reed Hastings of Netflix and create business and art they can be proud of; art that's worth talking about. 

Hastings is the guy who created "binge-watching" as we know it when he made a bold decision, put up $100 million on House of Cards as Netflix re-defines how we watch television all over the world. And to think it all started when Reed was embarrassed over a $40 late fee for renting out the VHS video of Apollo 13. 

#3 Learning

JOES:  Already know it all. If they do happen to attend a seminar, their communication dial is stuck on transmit not receive. They rarely, if ever, take notes. And when they do suffer professional setbacks, they will say "fu%k learning" and not see the growth opportunity staring them in the face. And don't bother with offering feedback since Joe will react as though it were a personal attack, blaming the client, pointing fingers at co-workers/the CEO, the weather, the break up of The Beatles or their tragic upbringing. 

PROS: Believe in the motto "Always Be Learning". A Pro always has a new book on the go, is seeking out advice from experts, is watching TED Talks, attending classes like "Magical Worlds Communications Workshop" at world famous Wizard Academy, enrolling in on-line courses and are eager to learn something new and important every month. If you are ever in a seminar with Jack Canfield you can just watch and see for yourself how the gentleman behind the wildly successful Chicken Soup for the Soul series will be sitting quietly, taking copious notes and trying to learn from others.Top professionals invite, welcome and are grateful for clarity-inducing feedback that they see as vital to becoming the best at what they do. And when the words and criticism do sting, the real Pro will double-down with determination to get better and treat feedback like an anvil upon which you forge the steel of your character and the shape of your destiny. Pros know the difference between 20 years experience and one year of experience repeated 20 times. A real Pro also knows if they are the smartest person in the room, they are in the wrong room. One of the smartest I know is Richard St. John who makes it a habit to study other super‑smart people.

#4 Preparation

JOES: Try and "wing it" or go "off the cuff"; relying on the gift of their inborn natural talents. What becomes painfully obvious over time, is how much that inborn talent will turn to rust when the saw is rarely, if ever, sharpened. 

PROS: The real pro will never forget and always pay attention to the fundamentals. Legendary pro golfer Jack Nicklaus was fond of saying, "learn the fundamentals of the game and stick to them. Band-Aid remedies never last." That's why a pro will constantly prepare, practice and rehearse like there is no tomorrow. Each day is marked by constant practice, research, study, attention to detail and endless repetition. Repetition is the motor of learning. Repetition is the engine of mastery. Repetition fuels the gas tank of success and that if a Pro doesn't constantly re-fuel and sharpen their God-given skills, they erode and eventually decay over time. As renowned violinist Jascha Heifetz, once explained:

"The discipline of practice every day is essential. When I skip a day, I notice a difference in my playing. After two days, the critics notice, and after three days, so does the audience."

The best musicians play endless scales. The best actors constantly rehearse and work magic in front of their bedroom mirror. The best authors endlessly write, edit and re-write. And the best golfers like Dad, Jack Nicklaus and Vijay Singh can be found spending countless lonely hours on the practice green or the driving range. Away from the spotlight.  Working on their craft. 

#5 humility

JOES: Are all about the flash and think they are better than they really are. They boast, flaunt and trumpet even the most mediocre of accomplishments as though they were a latter-day Deion Sanders high-stepping their way to an NFL end zone.

PROS: Are subtle, modest and show respect to others. They never forget where they came from and go out of their way to be kind to hotel employees, drive-thru jockeys and checkout clerks. They constantly give of themselves and like Scott and Alison Stratten are more than willing to share what they know. They feel no need to advertise their achievements and allow them to come up naturally in conversations. 

A real Pro acts as if he or she has been to the podium before. Like Detroit Lions great Barry Sanders who would simply hand the ball to the officials after each one of his 109 trips to an NFL end zone. Not once will you see Sanders spike the football as he lets his accomplishments speak for themselves.

#5.5 The game

JOES: Bitch, moan and whine about "The Game", the rules, the playing conditions and other players.  They fervently blame the economy, the government and believe life should be "fair".  They also tend to call in "sick" a lot .

PROS: Know life and business is much like golf. It is inherently, undeniably and eternally unfair.  Instead of complaining, they learn how to play the "The Game" and work like a bastard to adapt, improve and try and change themselves and the conditions they dislike over time.  And when it's "game time"- hurting or not - a real Pro knows it's "showtime".

         Success depends almost entirely on how effectively you learn to manage the game's two ultimate adversaries: the course and yourself.  


p.s... Pros vs. Joes was a reality TV show that aired on Spike TV from 2006 to 2010. 

The show featured amateur contestants matching skills against retired male and female pro athletes such as Jerry Rice, Dennis Rodman, Bo Jackson, Claude Lemieux, Darryl Strawberry, Roy Jones Jr., Wade Boggs, Spud Webb, Randy Couture, Warren Moon, Grant Fuhr, Jennie Finch and WWE wrestler, Bill Goldberg. 

One of the best depictions of the JOE vs PRO dynamic happens every year at the NFL Scouting Combine when announcer Rich Eisen competes in the 40‑yard dash.  

p.p.s… This post is dedicated to Scott and Alison Stratten for all that they do for the communities they've created and the people they touch each day. 

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