TOP 500 REVIEWERon 7 March 2007
How unique, indeed refreshing it is to read a book by and about a professional athlete, unlike so many others past or current, who has achieved great success both in athletic competition and in the business world. In this volume that Greg Norman wrote with Donald T. Phillips, he shares the lessons he has learned thus far (he continues to compete on a limited basis) "in golf, business, and life." It is important to note that when writing a book as well as when preparing for a major tournament or conducting due diligence on a business opportunity, it makes sense to enlist the assistance of others who can provide the knowledge and experience needed to achieve success. I commend Norman on selecting Phillips -- who collaborated so well with Mike Krzyzewski on Leading with the Heart and also wrote Lincoln on Leadership and The Founding Fathers on Leadership - but there can be no doubt that the insights and, of equal importance, the "voice" in this book are Norman's.
Others have their reasons for praising this book. Here are three of mine. First of all, Norman's candor. This was especially obvious when, in Chapter Twenty-Five, when he discusses his final round at the 1996 Masters. I was in Virginia that Sunday on a business trip, playing a relaxed round of golf with a friend before a series of stressful meetings the following week. When we teed off, Norman had played the first several holes, well ahead of the field; when we completed the round, we were shocked to learn that he had lost the tournament. How could that be? Later, I saw a telecast of the news conference, one that many golfers would have avoided, responding to questions that many of them would have evaded. "I screwed up today. My thought pattern was good but my rhythm was off. My good shots weren't good enough and my bad shots were pitiful. And that's pretty much it. Just didn't have it today. I place all the blame on myself." Of course, he was grateful for the strong support he received from family members and friends as well as from Jack Nicklaus, Raymond Floyd, Fred Couples, and countless other players. Norman may have failed to win the Masters that year but at the same time demonstrated qualities of character which continue to earn respect and admiration for him, both on and off the course.
I was also fascinated by all that he shares about his various business activities. He is a ferocious but principled competitor. Over the years, he and his associates have build a multi-national corporation focused around golf and the golf lifestyle (e.g. clothing, real estate, sporting goods, wines, gold course design, restaurants, and event management). Norman is an active and involved chairman and CEO of Great White Enterprises which now generates hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenue. His approach to leadership and management in the business world seems exactly the same as when playing competitive golf: set ambitious goals, assemble the "best and brightest" people, rigorously prepare, keep ultimate objectives in mind while focusing on significant details, explore all appropriate opportunities, measure only what really matters, never confuse pride with arrogance, welcome constructive criticism, be resilient when circumstances require adjustment, and remain convinced of achieving success eventually, preferably ASAP. As Norman learned on the golf course, there are some pars that are as valuable as birdies, there are some hazards to be avoided even at the cost of a par, that there are sucker pin placements which require a "safe" shot, and that sometimes what seems to be a perfect putt simply won't go in the hole. In this book, Norman cites dozens of examples of comparable situations during his career as a corporate executive.
Finally, I admire the humanity that Norman is willing to reveal so generously. For various reasons, many celebrity athletes are viewed as role models and even as icons. Over time, they become very protective of how they are perceived by the general public. (Joe DiMaggio is one example that comes immediately to mind.) In this instance, I am not referring to protection of privacy that I think is every person's right. Rather, I mean to suggest that it is rare that an athlete of Norman's stature and achievement is willing to discuss, even celebrate those in his life - over the years - whom he has most loved and most respected as well as those whose friendship he most appreciates. He recalls many fond moments, dark moments, lucky breaks, and other ingredients of his life and career. Throughout the narrative, he gives full credit to those who have helped him but always assumes full responsibility for mistakes and failures of various kinds that he duly acknowledges.
When concluding his book, Norman observes, "In golf, you can always shoot a lower score. In business, you can always make another buck. And in life, you can always become a better person. The next minute is the most important minute of your life. You are limited only by your imagination. Your dreams are the blueprint of reality."
Really, this is not a "golf book" or a "business book." Rather, it is a book about one man's pursuit of self-improvement and personal fulfillment while achieving success both in golf and in business. Greg Norman's journey continues, guided and informed by the lessons he has learned, lessons that can also be of substantial value to others who share his faith in what is possible and his determination to "go for it."