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here is no rewind but­ton in life,” says Isaac Gamede, “so there is no point in re­gret­ting your last ac­tion, be­cause it is un­doable. Where you are now is the best place to launch your next ac­tion.”

Isaac is the guy who car­ries my bag while I pre­tend to be a golfer. He has been a caddy for 26 years, and we have been walk­ing the course to­gether for the past year and a bit. If he had cho­sen his par­ents well, and had been born at a dif­fer­ent place and time, I would pay hand­some money to watch him play. Oops! There I go again with the “if only, would have, should have”.

“Se­cond thoughts are the worst,” says the man from Alex. “Choose a spot and then go for it. If the re­sult is not what you had wished for, move on so you don’t hold back those be­hind you.

“There is no point in be­ing an­gry with your­self and the world be­cause of a bad shot. Be­ware of per­fec­tion. It is the great­est killer.”

Some­times we dis­agree. When faced with a haz­ard, I try the safer route.

“Kubo kaGwala akukhalwa,” I re­mind him of the African adage. “The fam­ily of the cow­ard never mourns.”

“Yes, but they never feast ei­ther,” he is quick to re­mind me.

“So take your chances,” he says. “If your ball hits a tree and drops into the wa­ter, tough. It’s called bad luck.”

Too many of us live a life of fear. We are happy that we sleep on a bed and not the pave­ment, as if that is in it­self an achieve­ment. We’re too scared to lose what we’ve ac­cu­mu­lated.

Many com­pa­nies stag­nate not be­cause the mar­ket has changed, but be­cause the man­agers have lost that go-get­ter spirit. Fat has ac­cu­mu­lated around their waist and suc­cess has es­caped through the open fly.

When I’m feel­ing all gung ho af­ter a great shot and all I see is op­por­tu­nity in front of me, Isaac is quick to re­mind me that in life there is no free lunch. Let us look at pos­si­ble traps, be­cause in a well-de­signed course, they are hid­den in plain sight. What hap­pened to cell­phone maker Nokia, the star of yes­ter­year?

“Play your own game,” he says, qui­etly. “Don’t worry about what your fel­low com­peti­tor does. If he hits a bad shot, it’s no cause to cel­e­brate and, like­wise, if he hits a great one, there is no rea­son to panic. In­stead, take it as a call to un­leash your best game.”

There are many busi­nesses that are un­fo­cused and seem to fol­low what their com­peti­tors are do­ing. I saw a Jet store sell­ing wash­ing pow­der the other day. There are many rea­sons this is a bad idea. First, su­per­mar­kets have more buy­ing power with sup­pli­ers, so they will al­ways be cheaper. Se­cond, they have taken care of the lit­tle in­con­ve­niences, so they have the ap­pro­pri­ate plas­tic bags, which are very dif­fer­ent to those that are used for cloth­ing. Third, soap pow­der tends to leak and that will make the cloth­ing store dirty.

“Play to your strengths,” Isaac al­ways re­minds me, which, I must ad­mit, is a bit of a chal­lenge for me be­cause the en­tire game of golf is not my strength.

Many man­agers mis­lead their peo­ple by telling them to work on their weak­nesses. There is no point in wast­ing time on try­ing to im­prove what you are bad at, be­cause at best you’ll only be av­er­age. In­stead, spend time sharp­en­ing your strengths, then you’ll be bet­ter than most.

“Prac­tise. Prac­tise. Prac­tise. But re­mem­ber, prac­tice does not make per­fect. It only makes per­ma­nent. Any flaws or bad habits that you have will not be elim­i­nated by prac­tice. They’ll be in­grained.”

Hordes of ap­pren­tices prac­tise the bad habits they learn from their bosses, such as be­ing late when meet­ing with their sub­or­di­nates, or not pitch­ing up at all. Their vo­cab­u­lary is de­void of magic words like please and thank you.

In a com­pany, it may take years to know the true char­ac­ter of a man. The peaks and the val­leys are of­ten too far apart, but golf can re­veal that in a mat­ter of hours. Women should take their fu­ture hus­bands out for a round of golf be­fore mar­riage.

So what is the pur­pose of golf be­yond be­ing a yard­stick for mea­sur­ing hu­man crooked­ness? Re­mem­ber that golf is a four-let­ter word, and like other four-let­ter words such as life, love and hate, the magic is some­where be­tween the plan­ning, the ac­ci­dent and the con­se­quence.

Many of us are a prod­uct of love and af­fec­tion be­tween hap­pily mar­ried par­ents, but there are many oth­ers who are the long-term ev­i­dence of a one-night stand; the walk­ing left­overs of a good party; the bite of the for­bid­den fruit. We’re all here now and, as Isaac ob­serves, there is no rewind but­ton, and so we have to play it as it lies, or pay the penalty.

In the words of Payne Ste­wart, a pro­fes­sional golfer: “But in the end it’s still a game of golf, and if at the end of the day you can’t shake hands with your op­po­nents and still be friends, then you’ve missed the point.”

We should ex­tend this think­ing to our work. In the end, work is part of our life. The pay cheque, the pro­mo­tion and the Christ­mas party are not enough to keep you com­ing back. If, at the end of the day, we can’t shake hands with our col­leagues and com­peti­tors, then we’ve missed the point of work – per­haps the whole point of life.

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