Luke List: To succeed in life and business, ‘connect to what is most important’

By Mayra Rivera
October 17, 2022
3 minute read

Creating change that ripples across your entire organization requires perseverance and the untiring pursuit of excellence.

Luke List, a professional golfer on the PGA Tour, knows more about that than most. In January 2022, Luke won the Farmers Insurance Open — a full decade after first being promoted to the PGA Tour. Luke’s success is hard-earned. He’s proud to say that he’s never compromised his values to achieve his goals.

“I don’t think anyone should be apologetic for wanting to be successful, as long as that is truthful to their values,” Luke says. “That being said, in a career where the barometer for success is defined by winning, and winning is very difficult, I find myself leaning on my team to help me stay on course and keep my goals of improving at the forefront.”

Luke will join Betterworks at our Make Work Better summit on Nov. 16 to share his story of pursuing personal excellence. Ahead of his closing keynote, we asked Luke for his advice on moving forward and making progress, even in the face of adversity.

Empower your team to empower you

Although golf is an individual sport, Luke is quick to point out that he isn’t pursuing excellence alone. Without his team in his corner, he wouldn’t have found success. “It is still massively important for me to employ my team to help me to the best of their abilities while reminding me when I am astray of my values or goals,” Luke says. Knowing that his team has his back — even when that means calling him out — empowers Luke to move ahead with confidence.

Managing a team has challenges, but Luke uses his education in human and organizational development to navigate these complex interactions. “I am using my skills on a daily basis to communicate, drive, and improve my team,” Luke says. Nuanced communication is Luke’s most powerful resource — a skill he has honed through practice.

“Communication, I have found, is the best tool — and one that did not come easy for me,” Luke says. “The more honest, transparent, and forthright I can be with my team, the better our workplace relationships become. Everyone is clear on expectations and roles, and we help each other keep striving for those together.”

“The more honest, transparent, and forthright I can be with my team, the better our workplace relationships become. Everyone is clear on expectations and roles, and we help each other keep striving for those together.”

Learn from failure — but don’t dwell on it

Everyone has missteps on the way to achieving goals and pursuing personal excellence. But don’t let failure get you down. “I am always trying to talk to myself and pep myself up — and not let the failures define who I am,” Luke says.

Look at mistakes as opportunities to learn, grow, and perform better when you try again. Transparent communication with your team can help you recognize where (and why) you haven’t been performing to your highest potential so that you can fix it going forward.

Failure can also teach you about yourself. Develop the mindset that you won’t accept anything less than your best efforts. “The ability to sustain and endure adversity is something learned. It comes down to making a definitive decision that I won’t be defeated,” Luke says. “Being OK looking in the mirror and being honest about your actions and work is a scary thing, but self-awareness helps shape my personal happiness and allows me to learn from my failures.”

“Being OK looking in the mirror and being honest about your actions and work is a scary thing, but self-awareness helps shape my personal happiness and allows me to learn from my failures.”

Let your passion drive you forward

In Luke’s experience, success depends on keeping sight of what’s most important. And for him, what’s most important isn’t just winning: Staying true to his values is just as important as scoring a hole-in-one.

“I would encourage anyone in any field to try and connect to their core values and what is most important to them,” Luke says. “Keeping aligned with those decisions will help you connect to what is most important and allow for longevity and perseverance throughout your career.”

The strength of Luke’s commitment carries over into his life off the golf course. “On a personal level,” he says, ”I try and use this to not let my struggles get me low and to maintain focus on the future.”

The reward for Luke is knowing he put in his best work and fought to make himself and his team proud. “The conscious effort of pursuing excellence — and enjoying the pursuit — is the ultimate goal,” Luke says.

Like what you read? Register for our Make Work Better Summit to hear from Luke and other inspirational leaders.

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