Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Excuses are Sexy

When you give an excuse to yourself or others, you make it easy to avoid the truth.  Avoiding the truth leads to a lack of accountability.  It will be tough to reach your goals if you aren't accountable to yourself.  It will be tough to be dependable if you aren't accountable to others.
Eleanor Roosevelt didn't say this to a golfer, but she could have!  It is true.

Here are some common excuses used on the golf course:

1.  "It's hard."   This is a very common answer to many questions.  Questions such as, "How did it go today?"  "Did you focus on the right stuff today?"  "Did you stay in the moment and focus on your shots?"  "Did you let go of your mistakes when you put the club in the bag?"  "did you have fun playing golf?"

2.  "I tried!"  This is also a very common answer to the same questions listed above.  #1 is an answer that mean's I failed because the task was too hard for me.  This answer means I failed because I wasn't up to the task.  All in all, these are the same answer and often interchangeable by the golfer who will answer, "It's hard and I tried."  Both answers clearly say NO, but with an implied effort.

Ok, I hear you out there, saying those aren't excuses.  They are just answers.  Both of those responses relate an attempt to succeed, but ultimately these answers offer an apology for failure.  They are used to shift blame from the golfer and place it on the hardness of the task.  These are excuses.

There are also a lot of excuses for poor play or loss of focus.  No matter what they are, they signal a lack of accountability by the golfer.  Here are some popular ones in college golf:

3.  "I have a test later."  "I had a test earlier."  "I failed a test." "I don't want to fail a test."
All of these excuses mean that as a golfer, you aren't focused on golf.  There is little you can do about a test unless you sneak your books onto the course in your golf bag.  (Yes, I have seen that! ) Otherwise, if you are on the golf course, you have the ability to focus on golf and nothing else.  Letting your mind wander to what is awaiting you when you leave the course is simply letting your mind wander.  You control your focus!

It is sometimes hard to remember that you choose what you think and your attitude.  Choose wisely. 

4.  "I was put on the clock."  "I was paired with the slowest player on earth."  "We were two holes behind."  "I felt rushed."
Time is always a stresser.  As a golfer, you need to practice a routine that is consistent in its timing and puts you in the zone.  Your routine should be 40 seconds or less.  If you have this in your game, none of the earlier statements will cost you a shot unless you forget that your preparation and pre shot routine are all you need to think about when rushed or slow.  Your routine is your best friend and takes away the opportunity to rely on the above excuses as valid reasons for dropping shots.

5.  "The greens were too fast."  The greens were too slow."  You can put any part of the course in the beginning of the sentence and any descriptor in the end.  Your job as a golfer is to play whatever course you find when you step on the first tee.  It is not your job to judge the course, but instead to score on it.  You cannot wish for different things and successfully adjust to what you are facing.  You can either wish or you can adjust.  Reality doesn't allow for excuses.

6.  "I don't play well on this course."  "I didn't have a good warm up session today."  "I didn't feel comfortable over the ball."  "I didn't see the line on the greens."  "I didn't hit it well today."  These are so commonly used, they are barely recognized as excuses.  They are excuses!  History doesn't matter to today's score.  Unless you let it.  You don't keep score when you warm up, so it is impossible for it to effect your score.  Unless you let it.  Your comfort shouldn't be a factor.  What sport is played in comfort?  Get over yourself and focus!  Not seeing the line means you weren't in the right state of mind.  It doesn't mean you simply get a pass for a bad day of putting.  Not hitting it well means you better have great course management and some short game to back you up.  Everyone has good days and bad days, but you keep score on both.

7.  "I'm tired."  "I'm sore."  "I'm sick."  "I'm hurt."  There is a little box for your score and there is no room for pity in that box.  No matter what is going on with you, if you are playing golf, you will have to post a score.  That's the bottom line, so you might as well get over whatever complaint you have and play.

8.  "I suck."  I'm not good at (insert skill here)."  "I can't (insert skill here)." "I never (insert skill here)."  "I always (insert lack of skill here)"  These are my least favorite excuses, because they suck the will to play right out of a player.  This is a player with a bad caddy in her head.  These excuses are like closed doors to players.  Once they are on the other side of the door, you can't get to them.  The room they are in is dark and very lonely.  All excuses are problems, but these chew away a player's confidence.  Seen for what they are, simply excuses, they are surmountable.  They are the excuses that lead to an attitude of "whatever".  They lead to letting go, giving up and giving in.  Beware of these!

What will you do when you use or hear an excuse?  Will you recognize it?  Will you rephrase and reframe?  Can you script success?   These are the three steps you need when you use an excuse.  If you hear yourself make an excuse, stop it!  Recognize, reframe, rephrase.  Give yourself an automatic response so you can easily move past your excuse.  Here is an example:  "I always make bogey when they put our group on the clock."  Recognize your thought or statement by hearing the words always, or they.  Both are red flags.  No one but you can truly effect your score unless you allow it.  Always and never are cop outs.  If you hear that go through your mind, script a comeback for yourself.  State what you want to happen and how you are in control of how you think of it.  "I don't like being on the clock, but I know my routine is rock solid and only 40 seconds long.  I will trust it and focus on it."  Or.... "I have a test tomorrow."  New script: "I have a test tomorrow, but I can't do a thing about it on the golf course, so I will enjoy my time here and focus on my golf."  Or...."I don't feel good and I can't focus."  New script: "I don't feel good so it will take all of my effort to focus on my golf.  It doesn't matter how I feel right now so I won't spend any time thinking about it today."

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