Even though I enjoy playing and one of my sons works for the Nationwide PGA Tour, by no stretch of the imagination am I an expert on the game of golf.
At one time I assumed that great golfers hit each shot perfectly every time.
Wrong, Tee-Box Breath.
Sometimes they hit it too far to the right (called a shank) and other times too far to the left (called a hook). On very rare occasions they miss the ball entirely (a whiff)!
When any of the above or a myriad of other mistakes (behind a tree, buried in sand, in six inches of rough etc.) happen, it is what happens NEXT that separates the men from the boys and the women from the girls.
The golfer stops, takes a deep breath, assesses the situation, figures out how to extricate himself/herself from a tough situation and executes a plan to get back on track that makes a difference. It’s the crucial recovery shop that can help save par.
One of the worst moments in my professional life occurred when I was Director of Training for a major life insurance company. We held a three-day Education Conference in Dallas attended by approximately six hundred agents. In addition to motivational platform speakers, we provided a myriad of breakout sessions which qualified for CE credit. Producers appreciated the opportunity to pick up a lot of hours in a short period of time. Our conference was held in October and I was not aware that we had an issue until early December.
“Bill, is there a problem with Ed Conference CE’s?” asked my boss on a telephone call while I was in Kansas City looking at next year’s site.
“Not that I am aware. Why do you ask?”
“Because I have been getting calls from agents all over the country saying that CE hours are not showing up at their respective insurance departments.”
Needless to say, it was a long three-hour drive back from Kansas City to Des Moines. The situation was exacerbated by the fact that my assistant, the person who had done the filing for the three previous years, had resigned and moved on to another company.
And that, as it turned out, was the problem.
For reasons we’ll never know, she had failed to apply for CE in twenty-four of the thirty-eight states represented at the conference and lied to me prior to the meeting about the progress of her work. Knowing that it was a house built of cards, she resigned before the truth came out.
To be painfully honest, that first week after finding out was pure torture. I wasn’t sure where to begin. People had paid money to attend and rightfully expected to be credited for the hours invested.
And that brings me back to my golf analogy. The ball had been hit into a deep pond and my first step was to accept that unpleasant reality. There would be a penalty stroke but I still had time to recover. The world had, indeed, not ended.
I personally called all twenty-four state insurance departments. Although it was a challenge to get through voice mails and to decision-makers, I knew that it was my responsibility to fall on the sword and ask for understanding and forgiveness. Amazingly, twenty states allowed us to apply for credits retroactively.
I then called the producers in those twenty states and explained what had happened. It was important for me to let them know what had occurred and to make sure that there were no CE deadlines being missed when they renewed their licenses.
Then I needed to get in touch with the agents from the four states that would not or could not bend the rules. Our plan there was to encourage them to take free classes on the company’s on-line virtual university or offer to pay them for an all-day CE course in their community.
To my surprise and delight, I did not deal with even ONE angry agent. Each one said that either they had plenty of CE’s elsewhere or had all kinds of time to pick them up before renewal. They all told me that I shouldn’t worry about it.
How about you as a small-business owner?
I don’t know when you’re going to hit one into a hazard, but can guarantee that sometime, somewhere it will happen. When it does, follow the example of the scratch golfer. Analyze the situation. Admit the fact that it stinks. Accept responsibility. Make a plan. Execute. Move on and forget about it.
Hit that crucial recovery shot. It’s all part of the game.
Bill Sheridan—SHERIDAN WRITES