Friday, January 28, 2011

got confidence?

 Milk has been running this great ad campaign for many years.  It is simple and the milk on the upper lips of the stars shows that they have been drinking their share of the stuff.  That little bit of evidence is what makes the ad work.  My question for you is, got confidence?  If so, where would I find the evidence of it?

I am pretty sure that milk alone wouldn't give Beckham a white mustache like the one above.  There was some other substance used to show us how much he loves milk.  The real proof of someone who loves milk lies in strong bones and bodies.  While Beckham clearly displays this also, the effects of milk on our health doesn't show up overtly.  Confidence is much like milk.

If I were to run an ad campaign for confidence, how would I do it?  Now this is a funny idea, but when you are coaching young people and confidence is a key to their success, this is exactly what you are doing as a coach.  Unlike milk, you cannot go into a store and buy a gallon of confidence.  It is something that must come from your heart, mind and soul.  From the outside, it is very tough to see if another person has a lot of confidence.  We don't have a little white mustache as proof.  Instead, we must look for actions that reflect confidence.

Here is the definition of confidence: 
full trust; belief in the powers, trustworthiness, or reliability of a person or thing: We have every confidence in their ability to succeed.
In order to be a successful golfer, you must trust yourself.  You must understand that you are reliable.  You must know you can succeed.  You must believe in your powers.  How do you get to that place of trust?  Do you look at past results, the preparation you put in, the technique you take to the course or do you listen to what your coach tells you?  How can you manufacture confidence?  
It is easier to talk about what doesn't provide confidence before we talk about what does.  First, the words of others might lift your spirits, but external praise isn't the key to inner confidence.  The reason for that is, praise will lift your spirits as a golfer, but it has to reflect what you believe to resonate.  We have all walked off the course after a rough round and had someone close to us praise our efforts.  While we appreciate the sentiments, we don't believe the praise.  Becoming reliant upon others opinions is ill advised for another reason.  You can never control what others think or say about you.  From others you may get criticism that is undeserved or negativity simply because you are competing against them.  

Technique seems like a good place to start for carrying confidence onto the course.  It is important, but so many situations in golf are unique and technique needs to be manipulated or shaped to fit these situations.  Solid technique is important to all successful players, but becoming dependent upon technique for confidence is a never ending cycle that takes a lot of energy.  Players who work to perfect their technique often lose sight of the goal in golf of getting the ball in the hole.  Injuries often make it tough to stay perfect over a long career, which is another reason that technique might play a role in your confidence, but your confidence can never be reliant upon your technique.

Past results seem to help build confidence and the knowledge that you have been there and been successful is certainly important.  However, are results necessary to have confidence?  It is a bit of a chicken and egg argument.  Do you need confidence to be successful?  Yes!  Do you need success to be confident?  No!  If that were the case, there would be no first time winners.  Okay, so I know that is a silly example, but success can be built on things other than previous results.  This is a very tough concept for young players to believe, but it depends on your definition of success.  A young pro might feel successful to get an exemption, make a cut or make enough money to pay for the tournament.  A veteran pro might not feel successful unless she is in the top ten at the end of the week.  It is important that results are a component of how you measure success, because focusing on the process only is missing the point of playing tournament golf. However, it is up to you and only you as a player to figure out how to measure success on a day to day, week to week and year to year basis.  By doing this, you are building confidence on what is important to you and what makes you feel good.

The final thing that seems important to confidence is preparation.  It is the most potent of the factors mentioned above, but it isn't the answer either.  There is a golf commercial on t.v. right now and in it Hunter Mahan states, "golf doesn't owe me a thing."  That is very true and often very troubling to young players.  If you spend 5 hours a day, 6 days a week, 50 weeks a year practicing golf, you are on your way to becoming a champion, right?  Maybe.  Was that time spent productively?  Were you focused on the right things when you played and practiced?  Will it translate to low scores when it matters most?  Will your time pay off?  It should, but as Mahan says, golf owes you nothing.  The work you put into the game is an investment in yourself and your skills.  The time alone won't bring you championships, but an understanding of your investment to yourself will help you have confidence when push comes to shove.  Preparation is key to becoming a champion, but it guarantees nothing.

Are you frustrated yet by this discussion?  Does it seem like I am telling you that nothing is guaranteed to give you confidence?  Well, it is true.  Confidence has to come from within.  It is a decision you make.  It is an agreement you make with yourself.  It is a choice to believe in yourself.  It is as simple as that choice and nothing else.  It is the same as unconditional love.  When you have a child, you love your child.  Sometimes your child's behavior will cause you not to like her much, but you will always love her.  Confidence is like that.  It isn't fleeting or dependent upon your last action.  Your behavior should reflect your confidence, but your confidence doesn't need to reflect your behavior.   

When it comes down to it, you must trust yourself more than anyone else in any given situation on the course and when that happens, you have the confidence it takes to be successful.  You won't have a little mustache, but you will have clear purpose.  Overall confidence comes down to that belief in yourself to hit one shot.  With the faith needed to deliver results once, you can do it over and over.  A loss of confidence happens when the focus is on results, not belief.  Behavior, not faith.  Doubt, not trust.  In order for you to build confidence in yourself, it is the same as the old adage for focus, you must do it one shot at a time.  It must come from within and there doesn't need to be a reason.  Unconditional Confidence!  Try it and you will feel a calmness that clears your head.  You will feel less angst after a mistake, knowing you did what you could.  You will plan for success instead of protecting yourself from failure.  Confidence is a choice you cannot afford to pass by.  

So, what is my ad campaign for confidence?  It needs to be for you.  It needs to connect with you.  It needs to help you find confidence at tough times.  It needs to be personal, so you can feel it in your gut and have it radiate upward and show on your face.  Can I write this ad or should you?  Obviously, if you want confidence, you need your own ad campaign.  Here is mine:

Friends, Family, and Faith are my foundation.  With this foundation, I can do whatever is needed to be successful as a teacher and coach.  My foundation gives me confidence in myself and the knowledge I can pass that confidence to others.  What is yours?

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