September 1999

Last Word

A Networking Metafore - John Milton Fogg

Yes, metafore. I know. Should be metaphor. (I'm just a self-indulgent writer having way too much fun with words.)

"Fore" is a technical term used in the game of golf. It is never whispered. Always yelled. You (or some others close to you in your twosome, threesome or foursome) employ this term when a golf ball has taken errant flight and is headed directly for the head of another golfer somewhere on the links. It alerts them to the imminent danger of a golf ball-- a 1.68 inch sphere of very hard, dimpled-plastic-coated rubber band wrapped around a solid center-- traveling in their general direction in excess of 100 mph. If the ball hits them in either the right or the wrong place, it would, at very least, ruin their round and their day.

Golf can be a dangerous game. It's a lot like Network Marketing (which, as you are probably aware, can also be a dangerous game). In fact, golf is so much like Network Marketing it's almost scary. Not as frightening as hearing "fore" on a golf course. But close.

Hence, all this "metaFORE" business.

In the following paragraphs describing golf, golfers, golfing and other golf things, see if you can count all the golf references that fit just as well for Network Marketers and their unique game. (The point of all of this is, hopefully, to shine some light on a few truths about this business you, your people and prospects may have forgotten-- or never thought of.)

There are two kinds of people in the world: People who know about golf and people who don't. Those who know it exists fall into two distinct categories: 1. People who play golf. 2. People who do not play golf.

(Remember: Golf = Network Marketing here.)

In category one, people who play golf, there are many types of people with many kinds of opinions about the game. Some love it. Some hate it. Some are good at it. Some are bad. A very few are excellent players. Ninety percent of all golfers never break 100. (100 is not very good.)

Golf has its heavy hitters, men and women who are professionals and play golf for a living. We marvel at how very good they are, how much money they win, how easy they make the game look, and what an extraordinary lifestyle they have playing a game for a living. Add all these pros together and they account for less than one-tenth of one percent of all the golfers in the world.

Some golfers love the game of golf and stink at it. (That's me.) Some golfers are good, but don't play enough to be as good as they could be. Some golfers are beginners. (That's me, too.) Some have been playing for years. Some beginners are very good. (That's not me.) My son Johnny is one of those very good "beginners." Some golfers admire him. Others resent his talent for the game. "It's not fair," they say. Golf is a lot like life.

Golf is frustrating for everyone who plays-- even the pros. The reason golf is so frustrating is that it's never the same. Your swing changes. So does the weather. Wind and rain and sun or none of the above-- all cause you to adjust how you play, that day. Sometimes the rough is really rough. Other times, the rough is short to the point of hard dirt. Greens can play slow and fast on the very same course. And, of course, golf is always played by people, which is the real cause of the game's inherent frustration.

Golf will either expose or promote you for who and how you really are. People who play golf behave in very telling ways-- ways they may cover up or avoid displaying in the rest of their lives.

For example: I'm very self-critical on the golf course and practice range. I take my progress very seriously. Too seriously, my family rightly says. I just cannot understand why after seven months I have not gotten good enough to break 90, much less 100 (which I just did for the first time). I hate it when I mess up. I've made enough good ones to know it can be done. So why can't I do that all the time? I am too hard on myself. Excellence.

In golf, I am not in touch with reality. In life? Well. . . .

I lose my temper a lot on the course. I swear a lot-- out loud, and I've got to stop doing that. I don't like myself when I do that.

I'm not very good-- yet. I'm afraid I won't be very good-- ever. I can be very negative about golf. I can be very negative-- period.

On the positive side, I love golf. I'm learning, developing and getting better and better. I have good and bad days. Sometimes I don't even keep score. Sometimes I do the remarkable thing: Like my 100 foot shot-- filled with wet sand that felt like mortar `cause it had just poured down tropical torrents for the third time on the first two holes-- that snaked across the green slow and gentle and pretty perfect and plopped right in the hole to save bogey (one over par). This was on the Links at Kuilima, in Turtle Bay on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. That one will be remembered forever. Golfers call that a "career shot" meaning it does not (and will never) get any better than that. That one will bring me back no matter how badly I play the rest of the day.

Sometimes I have fun playing golf. It's a choice I make. I make it more often now. But I frequently forget. Frequently.

The people you meet playing golf are always interesting. I learn from all of them: Ken, the United Airlines pilot; Bob, the geologist; Steve the marketing VP for a Silicon Valley hot-stock Internet company. You get to meet and quickly know a lot of people playing golf. That's one of its greatest joys-- for me.

But I think it's the learning part I love most. Playing golf is always a study for me, and I'm a born student. Most of all, I love getting better.

It's interesting that professional golfers who play the "Tour" take lessons constantly. They all have golf coaches. Some have three or four. They constantly practice: full swing drivers and irons, short game pitching and chipping, putting. They do this even after they finish a round in a tournament. Dedication. These pros don't win all that much, either. One to three first place finishes in a season makes for a stellar year.

Once you learn the mechanics of golf-- the strategy, how to stand, grip the club, swing well, when to play safe and when to go for it-- the rest of the game is mental. About 80/20, once you get the basics down. The key to success in golf is your "inner game."

In category two, those people who don't play golf, there're a couple of types: People who don't know golf and don't want to, for whom golf is a total waste of time, a scam, a good walk spoiled and worse. Although some people who don't play admire those who do and even enjoy watching, most of them put golf down out of sheer ignorance. Golf is very misunderstood. However, every year there are more and more people getting into golf. Golfing is at a record level around the world and looks to never stop growing. There's money in-- lots; to be made and spent. Golf has reached critical mass.

Everywhere I look in golf, I see Network Marketing. I think that's because, like Network Marketing, golf is life in a small enough size and holdable shape you can actually get your mind around. Like golf, like Network Marketing, life is essentially a mysterious marvelous manifestation of Creation: always changing, always growing, always to be engaged in fully or not as you choose. Golf's lessons and challenges and Network Marketing's strike me as one and the same, and what it takes to succeed in either game is the same as well.

That's why I play golf. It helps me live life more fully, more better.

That could be why you're in Network Marketing. Is it...? -- JMF

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Reprinted with permission from Upline, Last Word - September 1999, 888-UPLINE-1,


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