If we approached our jobs the way professional golfers approach theirs, we’d all be millionaires.
Meet Ben Crane, a PGA Tour golf pro consistently ranked among the world’s best. Behind every stroke, he’s packed countless hours of discipline, planning, intention, and sheer grit. It’s not all checkered pants and cigars, folks. These golf pros are machines, and when the pressure’s on, Ben knows how to deliver.
Of course, the five habits Ben employs to excel at golf don’t only work for golfers. They’ll help you bring a stronger mental game to your business, too. Keep reading for a recap, and then listen to the full interview with Ben Crane in the latest episode of the Building a Story Brand podcast.
Habit #1: Follow your plan diligently.
I interviewed Ben at his house, downstairs in the den. On the floor above us, though, he has installed a full golf studio — complete with putting green, video monitors, and an indoor driving range with sensors. It’s insane.
And it’s all a part of a plan that Ben is following to improve his game.
Every morning, he gets up and goes to work on the three-month plan he and his team have created. It encompasses everything — golf tactics, strength, mobility, and mental toughness. It brings instant clarity to every day’s goals.
As he says, “Plan your work, work your plan.”
How it applies to your business: Chances are, your business already has a plan of some kind. But often, we create big, unwieldy plans that we never end up fully executing. Or we start, only to wander to another shiny strategy after a few weeks.
To transform your business, create short-term plans with deadlines (say, three months) and stick to them. It will create tremendous unity, clarity, and focus for your entire team. When it’s over, see if it worked. If it didn’t, awesome — you’ve learned something valuable. If it did, even more awesome.
Habit #2: Put in hard work today for success tomorrow.
We’ve all heard Malcolm Gladwell’s signature statistic — that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become world-class in any field.
Ben added up his concentrated hours of practice and preparation in golf. His total? Over 35,000.
But when the pressure is on (you know, stuff like make this putt, win a million dollars), all that preparation gives him confidence. In his words, “Tomorrow’s great performance is today’s great habit.”
Tomorrow’s great performance is today’s great habit.
How it applies to your business: Your work ethic matters as much (if not more) than your idea, your natural talent, or your education. It’s tempting to look at successful people and assume their success just showed up. But you’re not seeing all the failure, grit, and relentless hard work that got them there. You can beat a lot of the competition simply by outworking and outlasting them.
Habit #3: Focus on process, not results.
For Ben, focusing on simply “winning” doesn’t actually help him win. In his words, “When we use our minds to think about winning, we’ve already missed it.”
Instead, he concentrates his mental energy on executing the process. Before a tournament, that means following his training plan. While he’s playing, it means going through a detailed and highly practiced shot routine.
How it applies to your business: Don’t get me wrong. Your business needs results, and you need solid metrics to tell you whether or not you’re achieving them. But fixating on those results — leads, conversions, sales, cashflow — can blind you to what’s really going on in your business.
That’s because your processes matter just as much to your long-term growth. Strive to make incremental progress along the plan you’ve created for your business, and if your plan is a good one, the results will take care of themselves.
Habit #4: See mistakes in a new light.
Ben has a name for bad shots. And he doesn’t call them “bad shots.” Instead, they’re “OTEs” — opportunities to excel.
Immediately after those shots, he spends a few moments picturing the correct shot, and that’s what he loads back into his brain.
As he says, “what you picture last will affect you the rest of the day.” For him, it’s needs to be something positive.
How it applies to your business: We all goof up at work. We miss deadlines, we flub meetings, or we completely whiff the strategy. Focusing on those missteps, however, isn’t the habit of a champion. In fact, it’s one of the most damaging things you can do.
Instead, look at your mistakes as an “opportunity to excel,” and picture yourself again in the same situation. This time, see yourself meeting the deadline. Leading the meeting with authority. Nailing the strategy and breaking sales records.
Then, the next time you face that situation, you’ll have a clear picture of yourself getting it right.
Habit #5: Make it a point to learn.
At the end of every round, Ben pulls out the voice recorder tool on his iPhone and makes a note of three things:
- what he did well
- what he learned, and
- what he’s going to do about what he learned.
Later, he writes those things down in a journal.
He is always learning and analyzing, and then he relishes the opportunities to apply what he’s discovered — both on and off the course.
How it applies to your business: What if you asked yourself the same questions at the end of every work day and kept a journal or a set of index cards with your answers? Imagine the wealth of knowledge you’d amass in a matter of months. It’s easy to pay lip service to “learning a lesson,” but to truly learn something, you need to repeat it and review it. The act of recording what you’ve learned — however that works for you — gives you a powerful advantage.
You’ll find at least a dozen more nuggets of wisdom in this podcast episode. Even if your brand of golf doesn’t go much past Putt-Putt, this talk with Ben will inspire to be mentally tough, stay positive, and adopt a few new habits that will grow your business. Check out the full interview here!
Podcast produced by: Tim Schurrer
Additional editing by: Nick Jaworski