The power of self-empowerment

Reflecting on your choices and actions provides an in-depth look at your responses to personal and professional situations.


Aerial view of Ghost Creek golf course

It’s widely recognized that superintendents who continue to develop themselves professionally reap significant beneficial rewards. Let’s not forget, however, the power of personal development and the empowerment it can have on our well-being and life outside of the workplace, too. In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of both and how it’s possible to achieve that lofty goal.

Professional development centers solely on direct work-based improvements. It ensures we continue to be competent in our profession and is something we should continue throughout our careers. Tracking and documenting our skills, knowledge and experience will help us stay relevant and updated. Professional development is achieved by attending conferences and workshops, maintaining academic credentials, taking part in activities put on by professional organizations and informally networking with other superintendents across our industry.

The benefits of professional development are many. It improves our knowledge, credibility and trustworthiness; enhances our skills, value and worth; improves our job satisfaction; and increases our motivation and productivity.

Similarly, personal development is highly beneficial on many levels and should be a lifelong process that, through analyzing and assessing our character and qualities, helps us consider our goals in life. By creating a tailor-made plan, we can achieve positive and effective outcomes in our life. Ultimately, as we achieve greater self-awareness and self-knowledge, our empowerment and effectiveness grow. Personal development helps us prioritize the right things in life, deliver results that matter most, build resilience that can help us deal with life’s stresses and strains, and improves our relationships and well being.

One way to develop ourselves, both professionally and personally, is through reflective practice, the action of thinking about or reflecting on our experiences. It’s the ability to look closely at a past situation, evaluate what happened and decide what we would do differently next time to achieve a more positive outcome. Superintendents who reflect are not just reliving past events; they’re taking an in-depth look at their emotions, feelings, actions and responses to specific situations. In theory, this can then help us in future similar situations to maneuver ourselves and influence others to gain better, more positive outcomes.

The use of reflective practice in professional development is vital to better serve not only ourselves but the organizations we work for, too. Reflecting on situations and interactions with colleagues helps us achieve more successful outcomes through greater emotional intelligence. The ability to learn from past experiences, modify behavior and adapt new strategies not only increases our potential for success but builds self-confidence and that of the people around us.

Before we can begin, though, it’s important to create the right environment. We need to build some reflection time into our day, become open to our experiences, and appreciate the value of learning, talking and listening to others. If we can sustain an open mind and generate healthy communication in our workplace, we will experience increased productivity and effectiveness as a result.

This can be achieved through departmental meetings, 360-degree feedback surveys — don’t be frightened of what you might discover! — one on one appraisals, annual performance reviews and S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely) goal setting.

Many people find that they learn best from experience. However, if they don’t reflect on their experience and don’t consciously think about how they could do better next time, it’s hard for them to learn anything at all.

All of these tips can help us create alternative strategies, open opportunities of influence and learn so we can deliver success for ourselves in the future. Self-empowerment intentionally helps us choose to be in control of our destiny.

When learning and development become a priority in our life, we feel more confident and focused about the things we hope to achieve. If we can achieve this, we won’t need to worry about obstacles or inconveniences because we’ll trust that we have what it takes to overcome them. We’ll understand our strengths and weaknesses and use that information to pursue success on the terms that are right for us.

Phil Helmn, MG, is a four-year GCSAA member with more than 35 years of experience in the golf course management industry. He is a regular speaker on leadership and the author of “The Power of People,” which offers tips to manage the modern-day team.