Play It As It Lies


In a compelling blog post on the impact of Generation Z and Pope Francis Penelope Trunk discusses both the group and the leader as being less about themselves and more about what they are here to do. She writes, “Do you know how you can tell what age someone is online? Look at their domain name. Generation Y-ers are nuts about getting their namesake as their handle…Generation Z doesn’t care. They just want to do what they do best. Pewdiepie and AntVennon are post-Gen Y. They have huge web sites, but they are not self-promoting so much as promoting something bigger than themselves.”

When I started my business two short years ago I decided to simply do so as “David Berry.” That is to say, I didn’t create a company name out of the belief that as a speaker and consultant my identity was most central to my value. What I wrote, expressed and taught was a product of my point of view – you were hiring me, not a product I created. And so I did what most people do and I bought my domain name: Self-promotion was the model I was familiar with so I used it.

A little while later I received some advice from a friend who had previously been in business for herself. She encouraged me to waste no time in protecting my family’s assets by forming a limited liability corporation. I specifically remember her saying “You’re going to get hung up on the name, but do not get hung up on the name.” She made herself clear, “since what you name the LLC doesn’t have to represent your company in the public arena, don’t allow deciding on the ‘perfect’ name to slow you down.”

What did I do? I got hung up on the name. Since for me everything (EVERYTHING…often ad nauseum) has to have MEANING I couldn’t bear the thought of picking something meaningless just to complete even a very important legal task. I could have just named it “David Berry, Inc” or “David Berry & Company/Associates/Friends” but that fell flat for me. So I hemmed and I hawed, I dillied and dallied, I consulted endless business naming sites and I didn’t act.

Finally, I decided to go with an early impulse and choose a legal name for my fledgling enterprise that echoed my previous affiliation with the golf industry. I landed on Rule 13 of the official rules of golf which states that the ball must be “played as it lies.” This short phrase has been the source of endless consternation, deliberation and cheating both subtle and blatant as long as the game has been played. Why? Because it is hard to accept reality – even when playing a game – and it can be even harder to creatively plan for and influence a successful outcome when the conditions you face don’t match your expectations or your experience. (Note to the non-golfer: at your average practice area at your average golf facility you will not find golfers hitting shots from behind trees, out of two inches of water, from an elevated tree branch, from the inside of a tumbleweed, from the crevice between two boulders, etc…all shots I have either personally attempted or witnessed first hand). The difference between what happens in the preparation for golf and in the actual playing of it is massive. There are so many variables and so many unexpected realities that emerge as you play that you can’t possibly be ready for all of them. And so it goes with the leadership of anything worth doing.

As of this writing, inspired as I am by Ms. Trunk’s admonition to “promote something bigger than myself” and devoted as I am to helping leaders and organizations face reality and plan for success, you can now find me at RULE13 Learning.

DAVID BERRY is the founder of RULE13 Learning. He writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world, especially the parts where he doesn’t handle it very well. If you enjoyed this post someone else might, too. Please pass it along.

4 thoughts on “Play It As It Lies

  1. And i’m sure you’ve heard the story about the Royal Calcutta golf course and monkeys moving the ball?

    Safe travels… >

  2. Great Name! And in life, what else can one do?

    Best Always,

    Doug Walker
    Manager, HR Services, Service Operations

    3570 Carmel Mountain Rd.|Suite 180|San Diego, CA|92130
    OFFICE: 858-523-7840 | Mobile: 858-860-4012 | FAX: 858-523-7890


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