(This post was originally much longer. A thank you goes out to my friend Red Maxwell for suggesting I trim it down.)
This past Sunday, four of us drove down to Augusta, GA to go to the Masters. We spent the early part of the day walking around and then sat down along the 16th for most of the afternoon. I used the waiting time between the groups playing through to read the Spectator's Guide, a 68-page booklet they give to everyone upon entry.
On page 6, after a two-page history of the tournament, offset from the rest of the page by a solid border, Augusta National printed their Mission Statement. Here is the first (and most important) paragraph:
The chief objective of the Masters is to stage a golf show that is enjoyable to all - our members, patrons and player guests, and to interested golfers generally. We would also like, if we can, to contribute something to the advancement of the game.They could have used the phrase "golf tournament" or "golf event" or "golfing competition" to describe the Masters. Instead, Augusta National used the phrase "golf show." It's not an accident. In that instant, the whole spectacle of the Masters made sense to me through the clarity of that one, simple phrase.
I've only been to Augusta National during the Masters and I can tell you that the entire place seems like one big stage. It's a Disney World, where everything seems to have a place, where the landscape, the activity, the amenities, the food, the history, the iconic golf holes on the back nine, and, let's not forget, the golfers and the competition itself, is designed to enhance a greater experience, a magical experience.
The Masters is a golf show and I think anyone who's there, if they thought about it this way, would agree that they are part of the cast. Some of us, like me, have small parts. Others, like Bubba Watson, have big parts. We are all, however, just a cog in the wheel, and next year the show will go on again with or without us.
I'm convinced that the Masters would be quite something else had the members of Augusta National a different mission statement. These men - let's leave the politics of that word out of it for this conversation - run some of the most successful businesses in the world and didn't just fall off the turnip truck. They know that words matter and that for an organization to succeed it must keep things simple. They chose "golf show" for a reason and they have been living up to that mission in grand style.
You may not like golf. You may think the tv promo's declaring it "a tradition like none other" are pompous. You may dismiss the green jacket ceremony from Butler Cabin as hokey. You can't deny however that, upon close inspection, that the Masters is something special - that they have achieved something that few other organizations ever do. I think a large part of why is because they are entirely focused on fulfilling their mission - and they know exactly what it is.
I learned something last Sunday in a most unexpected place: that having a clear mission leads to excellence. I don't really have a good one yet. It's something else for me to work on.