When Billy Horschel stands over his putt to win, the failure or success of his game boils down to his mindset. As a six-time PGA TOUR champion, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, Billy overcame many obstacles on his journey to success. The same mindset Billy uses to succeed on the golf course translates effectively to the business world. Strong leaders think and act holistically—meaning, their success comes from lessons learned in other aspects of their lives.
We recently interviewed Billy on the Forge Ahead podcast, where he shared some of the lessons he learned on and off the golf course and how those experiences help shape his entrepreneurial and philanthropic career.
1. Trust Your Practice
Professional golf comes with enormous pressure—you can win or lose with a single swing. When Billy faces these crucial moments, he relies on three things: preparation, practice, and foundation. Billy explains, “We’ve done our regular work in practice. This isn’t just what you’ve done earlier this week, this is what you’ve done your entire career. You’ve worked this hard. Now, it’s just all about trying to really not focus on the moment and just making that putt just another putt.” This same mindset applies in business. When faced with an important deadline, rely on your practice, team, and process to get you to the finish line.
2. Learn from Failure
Failure, whether on the golf course or in the business world, is inevitable. Therefore, it’s important to learn from failure head-on.
Billy suggests you analyze past failures and successes and ask yourself: what made you succeed in certain areas and fail in others? How can you change your performance for the better? He says, “When you do fail, you have to understand, why did you fail? Learn from those failures, so you don’t have that same instance reoccur again.”
You can also reach out to leaders in your industry to learn from their successes, Billy says. Pinpoint how successful people prepare themselves for victory, and apply those methods to your practice.
When you use failure as a catalyst for growth, every negative outcome can create positive opportunities.
3. Be Happy in the Present
It’s easy to continuously raise the bar on your own success. You dream of taking the next step in your career and assume once you get there, you’ll be satisfied.
However, your definition of success constantly changes based on previous accomplishments—once you achieve X, you will immediately want to move on to the bigger and better Y.
In order to experience a fulfilling career, you need to find happiness in the present, Billy says: “Don’t try to just set this bar because once you get there, you’re going to want something else. So you are where you’re supposed to be at that time and moment, and just accept it and keep moving forward.”
Learn to be content with where you are now so you can fully enjoy the success of the present.
4. Improve by 1% Every Day
Sustainable growth is a slow and steady game. If you want to make long-term progress, Billy suggests you improve yourself by 1% every day.
Those small steps will take you further than you expect, according to Billy: “You want to have these big leaps and bounds of growth, but really what it takes is just little steps. We always talk about [how] sometimes you have to crawl before you can walk, and you have to walk before you can run. And that’s what it comes back to.”
What small goal can you achieve today to improve yourself tomorrow? And what will you do tomorrow to build on what you achieve today?
5. Perfection in Moderation
One of the hardest lessons Billy learned as a professional golfer is perfection is unattainable. You can’t win every game, and you won’t always do your best, but striving for perfection helps you be the best you can be.
The most effective thing to do, according to Billy, is to strive for perfection in moderation: “I am a perfectionist at heart, and I’ve had to learn that perfection is really unattainable, but to strive for perfection, there’s nothing wrong with that. I think by striving for perfection, it makes me better in all aspects of life that I’m trying to get better at.”
Perfection in moderation means you can achieve excellence without allowing the desire for perfection to rule your life.
A Leader On and Off the Course
Billy’s authenticity and perseverance paved his path to success both as a professional golfer and an entrepreneur. If you trust your practice, learn from failure, live in the present, and make daily progress, you too can achieve excellence on and off the course.