Sunday, October 21, 2012

Perfection vs. Learner's Mindset

Perfection is the state of completeness and flawlessness.  As a golfer, you can have perfection on a shot.  You can hit the shot you see in your mind's eye, it can react as you believed it would and you can hole the shot or have the result turn out just as you wanted.  You can not, however, have perfection as a golfer. 

A great example of a golfer working toward perfection.

Working toward perfection gives golfers an idea that their technique can be a finished product.  Think of your golf swing as you think of your gait when you walk.  It is something you learned.  There was some pain involved.  Luckily you had a fat diaper to fall back on when you were learning to walk.  Your gait adjusts to slopes and surfaces as does your swing.  There is little thought to your gait, but you can easily adjust to obstacles, such as a hole or a discarded wrapper on the ground.  When you learn, you create an inventory of motion or movements to create a basis of knowledge. That basis allows you walk with little or no thought of the movements needed.  Your eyes see where you want to go, your perception judges distances, slopes and obstacles in a glance and your body reacts.  There is no perfect step, merely a step that allows you to move from point A to point B.  That is the idea that needs to be adopted by golfers. 

Your job as a golfer is to develop your swing to produce any shot you want to hit under the most intense pressure.  Think of how easily you walk down the street.  Now, imagine that the sidewalk is a tightrope suspended high between two posts in the circus.  Does your walking need to be refined?  Must it hold up under pressure?  Yes!  The same skills need to be developed;
Focus, balance, emotional control, target orientation, body control, centeredness, etc.  

High wire walker, Nik Wallenda

Your golf swing isn't a motion that needs to be perfected, but instead a motion that needs to be developed.  You need to learn to hit high shots, low shots, curve shots and straight shots.  Then, you need to learn to do this under pressure.  Great players who can perform when it counts are the same as great walkers who can perform high above the ground with no net.

The root of the word perfection comes from the Latin word perficio, which means to finish or to bring to an end.  Aristotle wrote the following definitions of perfection in Metaphysics.

1. which is complete — which contains all the requisite parts;
2. which is so good that nothing of the kind could be better.
3. which has attained its purpose.[4]

If you want to be a great player, you must have a learner's mindset.  You must think that talent is something available with hard work and tuning.  Great players are constantly in the process of greatness and understand that their golf skills can either be developed and honed or they can be ignored and rusty.  Being a great player is never a finished process.  It is never at a state where it couldn't be better. Your ability translates to a purpose that is fleeting and ever changing.

Golf, as Bob Rotella told us, is not a game of perfect and neither is your golf swing!

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