President Barak Obama is currently involved in a close race with American businessman and politician Senator Mitch Romney for the American Presidency.  4 Years ago Barack Obama was a relatively inexperienced African American senator, yet he was able to pull off the historic feat of winning the US Presidential elections.  He was not at the time considered to be a powerful force but he created a powerful campaign that ultimately won the election for him.

Relate this to modern day golf.  Young players of today have immense power which allows them to challenge previous norms relative to the game of golf.  I will leave it to KeNako’s professional experts to comment on how to generate power in the golf swing and rather focus this introduction on the importance of having power in other respects.  Power and powerful causes and campaigns are critical in so many walks of life.  What can we learn from Barack Obama?  He may well be re-elected as American President despite Romney being a very serious challenger and despite the American economy currently being in trillions of dollars of debt with the very real possibility of them defaulting on their debt.  What then will happen to the powerful global force that is the United States of America?

Back to Obama and ‘Yes We Can’!  In 2008 he was named Advertising Age’s Marketer of the Year, ahead of a luminary such as Steve Job’s and his Apple company.  How did Obama generate such power?  Power in golf is generated by core physical strengths and a modern day swing, but power alone will not win – the associated power of the mind plays a balancing act relative to which players will win or lose. Obama and his advisors devised a technical strategy and a campaign that truly embraced the mind.

Did you know that when Barrack Obama decided that he wished to enter the race for the American Presidency, he started playing golf?  Why?  Because this was his way of connecting with key influential people who he needed to teach him, to back him and to help him along the road to success.  As it happens, he also started to play poker for the same reason!  This all happened in Chicago when he was still a young Illinois Senator (Illinois State Senate from 1997 to 2004).  He started to build a powerful core from which he would later benefit.

Once Obama had made his core connections, it helped him to generate awareness for himself.  Remember when John Daly first exploded onto the golf scene?  Why was he noticed?  Because he hit it longer than everybody else and he never flinched no matter what the circumstance.  People admired his power!  Daly’s power generated greater awareness and more sponsorship.  But unlike Obama’s poker playing days, Daly lost most of what he won in the casinos.  Perhaps this is a story for another month!  Obama started being noticed by a greater audience of people and there was an underlying buzz around him.  Then in 2004 he made the first of his famous speeches “The Audacity of Hope”.  That really helped to put him on the map and to build his power base.  He became a member of the United States Senate (2005 to 2008).

One of Obama’s greatest strengths has been his ability with words.  A good speaker knows the power of words and how best to use them.  At the 2004 Democratic National Convention Obama played on the emotions and on the pride of being an American.  He used his words carefully and powerfully.  He said “There’s not a liberal America and a conservative America – there’s the United States of America. There’s not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America”.  It touched the hearts and minds of his audience.  His power base grew.

According to a Newsweek poll, in 2000 only 37% of Americans felt they were ready for a black president.  By 2007 that figure had jumped to 59%.  This was all part of his strategy and in growing his power base.  But realistically 57% of the population was insufficient for Obama to hope to win the Presidency (all 57% were unlikely to vote for him!).

Obama was different though.  He had a white American mother and a black (Kenyan) father who had immigrated to the USA, having initially arrived as an exchange student.  He was extremely well educated, with an Ivy League education.  Obama was a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, where he was elected the first black president of the Harvard Law Review.  Obama also chose to stay in touch with the local communities – he was a community organizer in Chicago, working primarily as director of the Developing Communities Project.  So he was improving his power base at all levels – amongst the elite but also at a grass roots level.  People of all races and creeds were able to relate to him; he inspired all.

The rest as they say is history.

But having said this, what else is pertinent to this month’s theme of power?  Obama surrounded himself with the very best people.  They formed a key part of his campaign and his ‘power growth’.

At KeNako Academy, as our young golfers grow, they are learning from and being exposed to experts in several different fields; all critical elements on the path to evolving the power they will require for their future careers.  Whilst golf may be the dream, the reality is that only a few will succeed and each boy or girl is learning skills that will stand them in good stead in any walk of life.  The students may not yet recognise the value of what they are currently learning, but one day they will be able to look back and recognise the positive impact that the KeNako Academy has had on their lives.

Respect and discipline are just two examples of elements of Obama’s campaign that are equally critical to student life at KeNako.  Fundamentals like respect and discipline can ultimately help to build power!  One of the reasons that John McCain lost to Obama in the 2008 Presidential campaign was because his campaign was not able to prevent negative leaks, whereas Obama’s disciplined campaign never encountered any such problems.  It was far more disciplined, even in the face of severe provocation.  Add to this the focused and continuous effort of the “Yes We Can” and “Change We Can Believe In” strategies and it emphasizes what it takes to win.  Stay focused on the end goal and anything is possible.  Do not allow yourself to be influenced by others or by negative outside forces.  Have the strength to turn negative criticism or scrutiny into a positive that helps to more clearly define the way forwards.

The modern world is seriously influenced by technology.  Social media is even more important and influential today than it was just 4 years ago when Obama learnt to use these elements so well.  At KeNako Academy we may not require Social Media to the extent of an Obama campaign but we certainly do embrace the use of the latest technology and this can be seen in the equipment available at the academy.  This goes for both the technical golf coaching and with respect to the physical equipment in the gym.

Talking about the gym leads me to my final thought for this month’s article.  Before he won his first 4 year stint as President, Americans were for the first time exposed to a man vying for such position who worked out at the gym and who eats healthily.  Both of these elements improved Obama’s image.  Americans weren’t used to seeing a President jogging, working out at the gym or playing basketball?  Bruce Fordyce, record breaking winner of 9 consecutive Comrades Marathons, used to write ‘RELAX’ between the knuckles of his fingers and continuously look at his hand to keep him focused and relaxed.  Obama embraced the concept of relaxation being a critical element of his campaign.  As a form of relaxation, Obama made a point of playing a game of basketball before each of the primary elections.  He even played a game of basketball on the actual day of the US Presidential elections. Relaxation is part of power and winning!

Ron Boon
Ron Boon
Chairman’s Chatter