Today marks the beginning of the 109th U.S. Open Golf Tournament.  This year it will be played in New York at a public course – The Black Course at Bethpage State Park.  The weather forecast is horrible, the conditions brutally tough, and the competition fierce.  It should prove to be a great test of each man’s game and produce a true champion by Sunday.

The Black Course at Bethpage is one of a kind, and it comes with a warning.  On the first tee there is a sign, which reads: “- Warning – The Black Course is An Extremely Difficult Course Which We Recommend Only For Highly Skilled Golfers.”

Seeing the sign made me wish there were a warning sign that came with being a leader.   Something like . . . “- Warning – Being a Leader is an Extremely Difficult Challenge.  We Recommend Those Who are Faint of Heart Not Enlist.”

Unfortunately, there is no such sign.  Instead, leaders are left to handle the leadership challenge without any warning labels.

On the proactive side there are a few things leaders can do to ensure they are not wiped out by the Leadership Course.

1 – Stay Focused! Leaders are like golfers on this one.  Those who lose their focus will never maximize their opportunity.  As a leader it is vital that you pay attention to the little things and, to quote Stephen Covey, that you “keep first things first.”  Stay organized, work hard, and stick to the plan.

2 – Stay Connected!  As a leader you will never succeed unless you stay connected to your followers.  Check on them, hold them accountable, listen to them, and value their input.  The best leaders are the ones who surround themselves with great people.  Stay connected to the right people and you will avoid the leadership bogies.

3 – Stay Balanced!  The bottom line is balance issues matter more in the life of a leader than almost anything else.  Being true to your values, faithful and available to your family, taking care of yourself physically, and keeping integrity in your schedule will keep you out of the leadership rough.

– Warning – Focus, Connection, and Balance.  Without Giving Attention to These You Are Destined to Struggle as a Leader!

I hope you will work on these areas over the next few days.  There is more than a trophy on the line in your leadership.  There is integrity and influence.  Now go protect these with the same passion that the golfers will bring to The Black Course.