By October this year, I will determine if $145 was worth spending.
I’ve been mulling over the notion that a lot of time is spent into developing hard skills (learning to code, doing budgets, project management, research, analytics, etc), but soft skills (networking, schmoozing) are left to be developed organically without much planning.
But how does one go about improving how they schmooze, socialize, or network if it’s to be “organically” developed? Well, the obvious answer (for me) would be to engage in these activities more and apply a trial and error method on what works and what doesn’t work. But as a person, I’m a planner. I need to make lists, schedules, and set milestones when it comes to completing a project or reaching a goal. So, as well as the organic development, I employed a more concrete approach: Learn a hard skill.
So I decided to take golf lessons. A $145 investment.
A couple of years ago, my boss took me golfing. I did poorly. My boss invited me out again, and I did about the same. Golf is a business sport. A sport where there is a lot of time to talk, while engaging in a relaxing activity. This activity isn’t so “relaxing” if you are completely terrible at hitting a ball. However, if I were to improve enough at the sport, anxiety would be decreased in the actual activity leaving more attention to being relaxed. Also, you don’t want to be the one doing poorly at golfing. No one else may mind, but it’s the only thing you can think about. A wikipedia “research session” on the sport and history won’t be as helpful as you’d think either.
Learning a hard skill to improve a soft skill is an approach that may work for those who are uncomfortable with just improving themselves “organically”. Learning golf specifically is a great asset as you’re more likely to be included in business/social outings (or can initiate an outing with anyone you’d like to connect more with) and you’ll have many an opportunity to improve things like schmoozing.
As far as the $145, I don’t even have to wait until October to find out if it was money well spent. Any reasonable amount of time/money/effort that is invested to improve yourself in your industry is well spent if you emerge an improved person. I can now consistently hit a golf ball (and yes, this was an achievement for me) and know exactly what I did wrong if it doesn’t go where I intended.