“Thankfully, perseverance is a good substitute for talent.”  ---Steve Martin

The recent 92nd PGA championship ended tragically for Dustin Johnson based on a questionable and controversial call. What virtually every observer, from fans to PGA champions, saw as a sandy area of the rough outside of the ropes was declared by rules officials as a sand trap even though spectators were standing in it. Under the rules of golf, that resulted in a two-stroke penalty because a player can't ground his club in the sand. It cost him a chance to participate in a three-hole playoff for the trophy in one of golf's four major championships.

It was heart-breaking to watch and even brought a roar of disapproval from the usually reticent golf crowd. For most casual observers, it's a distinction without a difference  …  but in the rules-driven PGA tour, it was a judgment call without heart or soul. Mr. Johnson's disappointment now competes with Armando Galaragga's recent loss of a perfect game in baseball.

What do we do when we suffer a major disappointment, e.g., the loss of a major client we served so well or the departure of a valued employee to whom we thought we had extended every opportunity? Often, the disappointment is aggravated, isn't it, when we perceive that defeat has just been snatched from the jaws of victory and we got a raw deal? Often, the agony intensifies since the timing of this ignominy usually comes at the worst possible time. The final indignity occurs when we look across the aisle at the one who really deserved the lousy hand we got dealt … only to watch them bask in the glorious rays of victory.

Here are seven swing thoughts to choose from to help us get through these painfully difficult times:

1. Today is the first day of the rest of your life.

This is a good swing thought to get us re-focused on what we can do now to move forward. As much as we’d like to, we can’t change the past, we can only make new history. This notion can inspire us to seek hope for the future and leave despair in the dust.

2. When walking through hell, keep walking.

Adversity strikes everyone, lurks everywhere and can strike without warning. When it strikes, keep moving, don’t stop to dwell on “why me,” just keep moving forward. Don’t stop.

3. God grant me the courage to change the things I can, the serenity to accept the things I can’t and the wisdom to know the difference.

What I have often thought of as the Quaker prayer has also been attributed to Reinhold Nieburh. It’s an invaluable construction that can eliminate distraction, like the weather and world peace, over which we have no control, and hold us accountable for what we can do and not what has been done to us.

4. This, too, will pass.

Time has almost supernatural powers, wrapping our travails in a magical sieve through which they slowly dissipate. This reassures us that the immediate pain will subside as we renew our commitment to a brighter future.

5. Life isn’t fair.

There’s a reason that “fair” is a four-letter word. Sometimes, we’re rewarded when we make bad decisions; sometimes we suffer from good ones. Fairness is not the yardstick of our success. Achievement is, and it requires renewed devotion when adversity intervenes.

6. It could be a lot worse.

No one is exempt, and many bear greater burdens than we face in the business arena. Need I remind anyone of injured war veterans?  Keep those less fortunate in mind -- “there but for the grace of God go I” -- as you battle back from the abyss.

7. Never, never, never, never give up.

With these famous words, Winston Churchill inspired a nation  and left no room for weaseling or whining. So, when nothing else works, buck up. Have your two-minute pity party. Get the whining behind you … and then, you know … KBO.


Lary Kirchenbauer is the president of Exkalibur Advisors Inc., providing practical business strategies for family and other privately owned businesses in the middle market. Exkalibur works closely with senior executives and their businesses at the intersection of leadership, finance and business strategy, and uses the Business Ferret framework to help companies use strategic finance to drive improved business performance. Lary also hosts the Exkalibur Leadership Forum for leaders of middle market companies in the North Bay. Please visit www.exkalibur.com for a library of valuable resources, articles and insights or join the Exkalibur fan page on Facebook.