(Check out the free Strategic Readiness Inventory© and TPQ© tools at the bottom of this blog)

A golf pro might ask a student, “What is your swing thought?” That refers to what you are telling yourself as you address the ball and swing. As you can imagine, that can have a profound impact on the outcome of golf shot. [By the way, if you ever want to mess with a golfer ask him/her whether they breathe in or out in the back swing. I promise they won’t be able to hit the ball for several holes.] 

Just like our “golf swing thoughts,” we have “strategic swing thoughts” that impact how we work strategically. And just like my joke about breathing in the back swing, people and events get in our head and screw up our swing thoughts. Creating and using those swing thoughts is as important in your strategic mind as much as it is in your golf mind. Here are some TPQ’s© (Thought Provoking Questions) you might try to develop as your strategic swing thoughts are:

What am I telling myself right now? Is it true? Is it helpful?

I know, that’s three questions in one. But we tell ourselves things like how bad things are, that there are no opportunities, and this is never going to get better. I will confess to you that I work on this all the time. I wrote a graduate thesis on this topic in the early 90’s. Later, I used that to create leadership programs like “Winning Attitudes” that help us identify and shape those swing thoughts. It’s bigger than thinking happy thoughts. It’s about being clear about what we tell ourselves.

Who is influencing our swing thoughts?

I mean that both from a constructive as well as a destructive way. When people are destructive, they say things as if they are true. We believe them and they make it into our psyche. Challenge those thoughts, shut them out, or run the other way. Don’t let them get in your head. Conversely, there are people who can influence our thoughts positively like the golf pro helping his student. It reminds me of Kevin Costner in the golf movie Tin Cup where he caught a case of the “Yips” and couldn’t hit the ball. He had to fix it himself, but couldn’t do it alone.

Seek out those voices that help us create positive swing thoughts, take them into your psyche, and make them yours. Here are three things I have said during uncertainty:

• During a downturn I would say: Remember, we are a gnat on a bull’s butt (you know I used another word). We can make money from the crumbs others leave behind.

• It’s called a business cycle for a reason, it goes up and it goes down, never in a straight line. Learn to ride the wave.

• There is an old finance axiom that says: Most of the money in a business cycle is made at the bottom of the curve, not the top.