What Can Entrepreneurs Learn From Arnold Palmer?

Arnold Palmer receiving Presidential Medal of Freedom from President BushArnold Palmer receiving Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Bush

His style and his swing inspired a generation of golfers to start their own businesses. He helped make the golf course a great place to do business. Arnold Palmer was a great golfer. This is only part of what made him such an incredible inspiration to many of the business leaders I know here in the manufacturing belt in the Midwest.

My father knew Arnie and always enjoyed sharing some of their exploits whenever he had a chance. His stories about Arnold made me see how good of a business person Mr. Palmer was. He may have been the first professional athlete who earned more off the course than on. This did not take away from his golfing ability.

Arnold Palmer was always looking for opportunities to expand his influence into new products and markets. He created an extraordinary leadership brand that spanned several generations of golfers and business people.

Here are the five rules of life I learned from Arnold Palmer as an entrepreneur. I think they could apply to his golf career, as well. They reminded me of many of the stories I heard about Arnold Palmer at the 19th hole.

The first rule of life the Arnold Palmer way is don’t compound your mistakes. One thing Arnie used to tell people at his golf clinics was learn when to step away from the ball. I’ve seen too many entrepreneurs fail because they were unwilling to acknowledge their mistakes and kept digging, trying to get out of the business sand traps. Arnie would say it’s critical to know when you’ve made a mistake and be quick to correct it.

The second rule of life the Arnold Palmer way is to learn to reduce risk when possible. As entrepreneurs, we face a wide range of opportunities from which to choose. Smart business leaders know how and when to take risks and when not to. On the golf course, Arnold Palmer knew when to use the low drive to put pressure on his competition. Arnie won many of the great tournaments because he forced his competitors to take more risks, hoping to catch up with him.

Understanding your competition is critical to your success. Knowing both the capabilities and the psychology of others can help you create winning strategies both on the course and in new markets. Arnold Palmer knew how to read golfers very quickly. He was able to help others improve very quickly when they golfed together. He was never short of people who wanted to golf with him because of this ability to read how people perform under pressure. .

The third rule of life the Arnold Palmer way is know your strengths. Arnold Palmer saw obstacles as opportunities in disguise. He saw many great golfers come and go and he knew what he needed to do to win tournaments. He was not the most physically gifted golfer to play the game. When he first came up, many golf experts were very critical of his style of play. Actually, they were very critical of his style and the impact it would have on the golfing public.

Come back later this week and I’ll share the final two rules of life and entrepreneurship that I learned from Arnold Palmer. I believe we all can learn from Arnold Palmer and the way he led his life. You can learn more about Arnold Palmer’s life and his giving at his charitable foundation’s website featuring Arnie’s Army, his nonprofit charity A Life Well Played

See you later this week.

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