I didn’t watch The Masters live this year. Instead, I drove my now 16-year-old around to look for a new car. (By new car, I mean a new for him but in fact very old, used car!) By the time my Sunday was over, Jordan Spieth’s collapse at The Masters was just a headline creeping across CNN and an explosion of commentary in my twitter feed. I know admitting that I missed the Masters finale might just have eroded all my credibility with the C-Suite.

Yesterday morning, a trusted friend and mentor, Kyle Tothill, reached out and asked when I’d be writing a blog about Jordan’s collapse. Kyle is one of the most intentional young business leaders I’ve met in our city. He has an insatiable appetite to learn. He leads his team at eHire with enthusiasm, and he speaks passionately about career networking and building great sales teams. He encouraged me to watch Jordan Spieth’s post-Masters interview.

When I drove into the office, I sat down at my desk to watch the interview and other recaps of The Masters. I’ve written several times about moving on from failure including my recent post about a recent firing. It seemed like a natural. I thought that was where I was headed much like this Entrepreneur article. Then again, that article had already been written!

Before I could watch Spieth’s post-Masters interview, however, I needed to exercise my personal discipline and watch the Leadercast Now video of the day. At Leadercast, we exist to build leaders worth following. To that end, we put on the world’s largest one-day leadership event, Leadercast Live. However, that isn’t all we do. (Wait, there's more!) We have an extensive online platform in Leadercast Now. There, we’ve amassed an incredible library of leadership inspiration from the world’s most influential leaders from all walks of life. Every day, we send out a daily email with a short video geared to serve the time-starved leader.

Months before I went to work at Leadercast, I built the discipline to start my day with the short video delivered to my inbox. More often than not, it directly shapes my conversations and actions throughout the day, and always helps me become a better leader. It's part of my winning strategy! (The videos are free. I’m not selling, but it’s a great way to start your day if you’re serious about improving as a leader.) So, before I watched Spieth's interview, I watched yesterday’s video of the day on Goal Setting: Strategy Vs. Execution by Randy Walton.

In the video, Randy breaks down the differences between vision, strategy, and execution. He talks about the importance of not just distilling vision throughout your organization, but also strategy

I think what strategy is in really simple words is knowing what we will and we won’t do so we know what to do.
— Randy Walton, CEO, The Walton Group.

Perhaps it was all the thoughts of my son getting a new car the day before, but Randy's insights made me think of a driving metaphor. If your vision is your destination and executing is stepping on the gas to go toward that vision, your plan is your map. But your strategy is more detailed than that. Your strategy is your guardrails on the side of the road. Your strategy should keep you confined to your plan. Its value is not just in showing you how you’ll get where you’re going, but how to avoid going where you don’t want to go.

So forgive the mixed metaphor with driving and golf, but it was with that context that I watched the Masters recaps and Jordan’s post-tournament interview.

Something Spieth said in a later interview struck me as he described the 12th hole collapse.

I didn’t take that extra deep breath and really focus on my line on 12,” he said. “Instead, I went up and I just put a quick swing on it.
— Jordan Spieth, Masters Champion 2015

Spieth's initial mistake on hole 12 was a single failure of execution. However, he allowed it to alter his strategy. In the interview, Jordan further discussed his lack of discipline to not stay calm and recognize that despite the mistake he was still in the lead. He tried to play more conservatively to preserve his lead. He altered his strategy, which adversely affected his execution, which further altered his strategy. That is not how Jordan Spieth plays. That is not his strategy. His strategy is to play aggressively. He did not operate within his guardrails.

Jordan Spieth will recover quickly from his loss this last weekend. He has a great team. He has support. He is a great player. I’m not worried about Jordan Spieth. My concern is all of us. How can we learn from Jordan’s collapse so that we don’t find ourselves doing the same thing in our businesses?

Here’s my application:

  • If you’re crushing it in 2016, stick to the strategy that is leading to that successful execution. Don’t tighten up and get conservative now.
  • If you’re in the rough and not finding success in 2016, perhaps it’s a good time to analyze your strategy. You probably know where you want to go as a business, but perhaps you need to put some guardrails up on your road to prevent you from chasing the wrong paths.

The numbers on a golf scorecard tell a story of how successful the execution and strategy actually was on a given day. Likewise, your company’s financials are giving you an honest evaluation of not just your execution, but also your strategy. Learn the lessons and adjust. Or, learn the lessons and don’t adjust!

Don’t let a single failure in execution derail you from a winning strategy. There’s too much at stake for your organization to collapse.

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