Get All Access for $5/mo

Don't Waste Your Focus on Things You Can't Control Some pro golfers complained that this year's U.S. Open course was too hard. They should have focused on playing better.

By John Brubaker Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

USGA | J.D. Cuban
Jordan Spieth watches his tee shot on the fifth hole during the final round of the 2015 U.S. Open.

The 1974 U.S. Open was referred to by sportswriter Dick Schapp as "The Massacre at Winged Foot" because the winner shot a seven over par, which is exceptionally high for a major championship.

Some of the top players missed the cut and complained that the course was too difficult. Members of the media accused the USGA of trying to embarrass the best golfers in the world.

"We're not trying to embarrass the best golfers in the world," said USGA executive committee member Sandy Tatum, who was responsible for the setup of the course. "We are trying to identify the best golfers in the world."

The same thing happened this weekend. The rough was high and the greens were hard and fast at Chambers Bay. It separated the best from the rest very quickly.

Related: How to Develop a Laser-Like Focus on Building Your New Business

Tatum considered the conditions of that course the ultimate test for the best in the world. It's the same in business -- market conditions are the ultimate test in identifying the best entrepreneurs.

There's a universal truth to golf, amateur or professional, and regardless of a course's difficulty, golfers will complain about the course conditions, stating that whatever is "wrong with it" just doesn't suit their game.

Entrepreneurs will complain about their markets or the economy in a similar vein. But it's not supposed to perfectly "suit your game." You're supposed to adjust your game to the market conditions. Just like the best golfers in the world adjust their game to the course conditions.

Whether it's course conditions in golf or market conditions in business, you will be tested. The lesson for entrepreneurs from the U.S. Open is that the best player doesn't always win -- the one who plays the best does.

In both 1974 and this year's U.S. Open, many of the world's greatest golfers either didn't make the cut or choked under pressure. Complaining is the ultimate saboteur. It hijacks your focus and steals your patience. The golfer who played the best in 1974 was Hale Irwin. In the 2015 U.S. Open it was Jordan Spieth. Both U.S. Open winners attributed their success to patience.

Sports psychologist Dr. Rob Bell explains that adversity helps the patient golfer. The mistake a lot of golfers make is that they feel they're competing against the course and each other. The best golfers realize they are just competing against themselves.

It's the same in business: You're not competing against the market or the competition. You are competing against yourself. When you focus on conditions or the competition you divert your focus to things you can't control.

Related: 3 Reasons to Be Grateful for Tough Competitors

A golfer can't control how fast the greens are or how his opponent plays any more than an entrepreneur can control the stock market or his competition's business model.

Focusing on the conditions is counterproductive. There are plenty of things we can complain about, but it's a waste of emotional energy to focus on things we cannot control. The ultimate test for us as entrepreneurs is to focus on the controllables.

All you can control is what I call your A.P.E. -- attitude, process and effort. These are the only three things we each have complete control over.

Perhaps the greatest example of focusing on what you can control is Jason Day. While he didn't win the tournament, Day certainly knew he was competing against himself, not the course or his opponents. Day collapsed in the second round, suffering from vertigo. He managed to get back up and not only finish the round, but the tournament. Day birdied the final two holes and was even tied for the lead heading into the final round. He understood the greatest challenge wasn't the course or the competition.

It's a great lesson and great inspiration for us as entrepreneurs. It's not about what's happening around us or what's happening to us, it's about what's happening inside us. Our biggest challenge is not the conditions or the competition, it's ourselves.

For more game changing strategies to turn your potential into performance, join my free weekly newsletter.

Related: The 4 Qualities of the Successful Elite

John Brubaker

Performance Consultant, Speaker & Award-Winning Author

John Brubaker is a nationally renowned performance consultant, speaker and award-winning author. Using a multi-disciplinary approach, Coach Bru helps organizations and individuals turn their potential into performance.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Business Solutions

Increase Productivity with This Microsoft 365 Subscription, Now $25 Off

It can make the entrepreneur life a lot easier.

Business News

Apple Pay Later Is Ending. Here's What's Taking Its Place.

The program was available for less than a year.


This Artist Answered a Businessman's 'Powerful' Question — Then His Work Became 'the Poster Child for Juneteenth': 'Your Network Really Becomes Your Net Worth'

Reginald Adams was the executive director of a Houston-based art museum for more than a decade before he decided to launch his own public art and design firm.


Harvard Business School Professor Says 65% of Startups Fail for One Reason. Here's How to Avoid It.

Team alignment isn't nice to have -- it's critical for running a successful business.

Business News

Here's What Companies Are Open and Closed on Juneteenth 2024

Since it became a holiday in 2021, Juneteenth has been recognized by some major corporations as a paid day off.

Growing a Business

I Hit $100 Million in Annual Revenue by Being More Transparent — Here Are the 3 Strategies That Helped Me Succeed

Three road-tested ways to be more transparent and build relationships that can transform your business — without leaving you feeling nightmarishly over-exposed.