Beware the Auto Pilot

    Golf Retailing’s resident mind coach Karl Morris wants you to open your eyes and really take in what is going on around you.

    One of the questions I always ask participants in our ‘Lost Art of Putting’ days we run up and down the country is this ‘When was the last time you saw something for the first time that has always been there?’

    The first thing I always notice is a sea of quizzical looks as I can observe brains trying to process what is a tongue twister of a question.

    Think about it yourself, ‘when was the last time you saw something for the first time that has always been there?’ To give you an example I was recently in the car traveling along yet another motorway stuffed with stationary cars listening to Five Live on the radio. The particular subject they had decided to talk about (it must have been a quiet day) was the ‘epidemic’ of litter dumped on motorways. I had to admit it wasn’t something that had kept me awake at night but as soon as I heard the discussion what did I start to look at? As my eyes focused in on the motorway verges there was indeed litter everywhere! Yet I had never noticed it. Always been there but never something I had seen or taken note of.

    During the putting class I will explain to the group that when you hit a putt if you look for it you will see what is known as a ‘retinal after image’. As the ball leaves the face of the putter there is a dark blur of light where the ball used to be. Virtually nobody has ever seen it despite the fact it will have been there on every single putt they will have hit in their lives. Always there but never seen. The point being is we all go through life on auto pilot and the brain is very clever at making our lives habitual to create less strain at having to negotiate through the day. After awhile we see what we expect to see based on past assumptions. How does all of this relate to your business be that in the shop or in your teaching bay?

    First impression is absolutely crucial in any environment but never so important as in business. What is your shop actually saying to people? What impression does your teaching bay suggest about what is about to happen? What expectation do you create in your customer for what is about to happen as they spend time with you?

    I remember many years ago going on a winter training camp with Darren Clarke to Las Vegas in the days he was being coached by Butch Harmon. Harmon was at that time the former coach of Tiger Woods and the current coach of Phil Mickelson. As you walked into Butch’s own teaching bay the walls were adorned with pictures of Tiger, Phil and others holding aloft Claret Jugs and other major trophies and slipping on green jackets. His array of winning students was jaw dropping but as a coach he was smart enough to have those successes up on the wall for any new students to see. What kind of expectation do you think that created? What kind of subliminal message was being given out for what Butch could do for your game?

    Of course not everyone can put pictures of major winners on their wall but virtually everyone will have had great success with some of their players. Some golfers will have transformed their game after they finally had a proper club fitting. Do you let others know about your success? Does your store send out a subliminal message to people as they come through the door that they are about to enter into a place where all their golfing needs are met? It isn’t for me to suggest what you should do but I would ask you to consider that if you go into the same place every day looking through the same eyes you will become attention blind as to what your environment is saying to others. You will just see what you expect to see. In the Zen traditions of learning they talk about looking through ‘beginners eyes’. To be able to look at something and pay attention to what is actually there as if you were looking for the first time. It is tough to do but incredibly worthwhile. I have even had some clients who have actually taken a video camera and filmed the ‘first impressions’ of their business as they walk in. When they then look at the video on playback they see much more of what is actually there as opposed to the auto pilot response. Give it a go as one or two changes to the potential first impression can make a world of difference. GR

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    As an avid golfer since the age of eleven Dan lives and breathes all things golf.  With a current handicap of eleven he gets out and plays as often as his work life (and girlfriend) allows. Dan confesses to still being like a kid at Christmas when it comes to seeing the latest golf equipment. Having served as GolfPunk’s Deputy Editor, and resident golf geek for the past 13 years and working for golf's oldest brand, John Letters Dan brings to GOLF RETAILING an excellent understanding of the sector.