The final directive to the assembled pre-teens at the first Monday caddy school was to “keep up!” What our caddymaster Pat Higgins really meant was “stay ahead!” What golfer who has the privilege of taking a caddy wants to look for his own ball? When I first started caddying I would lag behind my golfer when I wasn’t entirely sure where the ball had traveled thinking I would be forgiven for being a couple of steps slow but not for failing to follow the flight of the ball. What I learned was they knew I didn’t see the ball and thought I was a couple of steps slow. The lesson I learned was to get ahead of the game, be the first to arrive at the most likely landing area and furiously survey the area to increase the likelihood of being the one to discover the right answer.
I didn’t realize I was neglecting this lesson early in my CPA firm career until an audit manager said “make a decision and move on, we didn’t hire you because you know what to do every time, we hired you because we believed you were smart and will make good decisions about what to do!” I struggle at times to do the work that allows me to keep up – listening to and learning from others (in formal training sessions and informal settings) and making time to read. At a recent Ohio Society of CPA’s continuing education session the instructor (a former national firm partner) said something I made a point of writing down and capturing in the Evernote app on my phone – “Your only consistent value add is in decision making and that comes from the training and practice that informs your sound analytical thinking combined with your objectivity and judgement.”