Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Importance of Follow-Through

I am not sure how many GRAPA members are familiar with the game of golf. As a long time player of the game, I can say it is one of the most challenging and rewarding athletic games I have ever played. For those of you who are not very familiar with it, the golf swing itself can be divided into three components: the backswing, contact (when you hit the ball), and the follow-through.  In studying the game and fundamentals, I have seen many cases where too little attention is paid to the follow-through. To many people (and this certainly might seem logical), once the ball is hit, it should not matter what comes next.

Well, in one sense this is true. Once the ball has been hit, the direction and distance of the shot is set, but that doesn’t mean that the follow-through should be so easily disregarded. For one thing, observing the follow-through is one of the best ways to check that everything prior to that part of the swing happened the right way. Not to mention that without any follow-through you would never be able to gain enough fluidity and momentum to hit the ball as straight and far as possible.

It has been said that “In golf as in life, it is the follow through that makes the difference,” and like most lessons I learned on the course, the importance of follow through can certainly be applied in almost everything I do.

To me, so much of what this blog is about is the building of a common professional community. And as we talk about what it means to be a professional, I feel that we too must acknowledge the necessity of being able to follow-through. This can mean following through on work projects, professional or career-related goals, or simply following through on something you said you would do (see Integrity). 

I was reading my last blog about GRAPA training and the importance of knowledge and information on the path to professional development, and I realized that I had missed an extremely important step. To borrow a phrase from a fortune cookie I opened a few weeks ago, “Knowledge not used is knowledge wasted.” Cliché, yes, but undeniably true.

Coming to a GRAPA event, for example, can be a powerful experience, and from a professional development perspective, can give you the tools you need to tackle revenue assurance issues from politics to systems to interacting with management. However, if after the training, there is no follow-though, then any potential benefit of the training was wasted. Like the golfers who feel that nothing else matters once the ball is hit, individuals who attend training without bringing the lessons back with them and applying them to their environments can never achieve their best results.

Professionals know the value of knowledge; they respect knowledge, and take the time to apply it. At GRAPA, after training we follow up with members to see how they are taking advantage of what they learned, and we are always pleased to hear their success stories.

So as I have in previous blogs, I will always encourage our members to seek knowledge in as many ways as possible. (If you want to see the ways GRAPA can help with this please review our member guide for an explanation of what we are doing to help our members stay informed and connected). However, it cannot stop there. Whether you have been to a training, or are simply perusing our reference library, take a moment to think about what you have learned and how you can follow-through on the knowledge and turn it into results. Professionalism is not a spectator sport; it requires constant dedication and effort.  In short, it requires the follow through.

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