Wednesday, October 19, 2016

All You Need is Love

There's nothing you can do that can't be done.
Nothing you can sing that can't be sung.
Nothing you can say, but you can learn 
How to play the game
It's easy........

All you need is love, all you need is love,
all you need is love, love.  Love is all you need.
Love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love,
All you need is love, all you need is love,
All you need is love, love.  Love is all you need.

Do you know this song?  It's a classic Beatles song from 1967 written by John Lennon.  I know you probably weren't born yet, but you should still check it out.  It's on youtube!  But what does an old song have to do with you becoming a great golfer?  EVERYTHING!

First, you need to love the game to be great, because it takes hours, days, weeks, years; heck it takes lifetimes to play it well.  Next, you better love a challenge, because becoming a great golfer isn't easy.  Third, you need to love being in the moment, because that's the space of time when great golf is played.  Finally, the most important love is the love you have for yourself.

You need to love yourself unconditionally.  Unconditionally means on both good days and bad days.  Learning the game almost always means you learn the hard way.  You mess up a lot and you figure out how to quit doing that thing and then you mess up another.  You're going to hit hooks, slices, shanks, tops and maybe even whiff it.  It happens.  You're going to make really boneheaded decisions, sometimes on the same hole.  You will probably two chip, three putt and do something even worse, like hit the wrong ball.  It all happens, but hopefully it only happens once or occasionally.  If you keep making the same mistakes over and over, that means you're not learning.  Often, failure to learn stems from not loving yourself.  

Sure, that seems like a stretch, but in order to learn, you have to forgive yourself and accept the mistake.  You have to face it and vow to replace it with something different the next time you face the same situation.  It's the same with your fears.  Sure you have fears of dribbling it off the first tee.  I did it at St. Andrews on the Old Course with 40 or 50 people watching.  It happens.  If you have some love for yourself, it makes it a lot easier to laugh at yourself for your downright goofiness.  However, if you don't have that love, you know that your mistakes confirm your worst thoughts and feed your fears.  Instead of learning from them, you spend your time working to build yourself back up emotionally.  

Golf is a tough game if you think you are your score.  Golf is something you do, not who you are.  If you think you are your score, you will always be reliant upon your last shot for your mindset.  You'll feel confident and high as a kite after stuffing it into 4 feet for birdie and then hang your head low after missing that 4 footer.  Your self-talk, whether it's positive or crummy, will rattle around your head, but it won't reach your heart.  Love lives in the heart.  

Have you heard of players who play with a lot of heart?  No matter what sport you play, playing with heart means the same things.  It means you never give up on the chance you have or on yourself.  You compete, you play hard & you do the best you can with what you have!  The thought that you aren't good enough can't be heard because your heart is busy screaming "I can do this!"  You can see it when a player plays with his or her heart.  They show it off!  Here are a few examples.

Kathy Whitworth

Jack Nicklaus

Lorena Ochoa

So, how do you get on this path to playing great golf?  You start by learning to love who you are.  If you need to be a better person to do that, then get busy.  Find gratitude for your gifts.  Look to a higher power.  Give of yourself to others not as fortunate as you.  Be a positive force on your team.  Do what you say you will do.  Be a nice person for no reason.  Whatever it takes for you to build self-belief and love.   Taking that step toward the goal of love will allow you to accept your mistakes much easier.  It won't keep you from getting angry, frustrated or disgusted.  You'll still have all the negative emotions that happen on the golf course.  However, you can remind yourself that it's ok, because it's a hard game.  You can give yourself a pep talk instead of degrading yourself and you can go on.  Then, at the end of the round, you can think clearly of what cost you shots and go to the range to work on those things.  Mistakes will be things that help you improve instead of proof of your failures.

If you're working hard and not seeing the results you think you should be seeing, maybe it's time to do more than think with your head.  It's time to get your heart on your side and give yourself the love you deserve.  Warning:  Loving the game, the challenge, the moment and yourself will all help you on your path toward greatness, but it will make the losses hurt even more.  It's a good hurt though.  It's that hurt you have when you know you gave it all you had.  

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Next and Big Step

We've embraced a positive attitude as a team this year and it's made our journey great.  As a team, we read The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon and I must say we have complete buy-in and understanding of how important this commitment is to our success.

We've seen the effects with our communication with each other, our togetherness, our will to succeed on the golf course and overall attitudes with small tasks.  In the book, we've learned that Energy Vampires (negative people) are to be avoided at all costs.  We all vowed not to be that person. Now it's time to take the next and biggest step, which is to put a stake through the heart of the Energy Vampire in our own hearts and minds.

In our team meeting on Monday, we had a quick chat about how we were doing with our purpose of FAMILY.  We all reported feeling very good about our interactions and having each other's backs.  However, when we did a quick circle of how we're doing with the ideas of Jon Gordon, we discovered that there are still Energy Vampires that live within us.  Our next and biggest step is to put them to rest.

Do you have an Energy Vampire living within you?  Are you positive with yourself?  Do you provide yourself with uplifting self-talk?  Do you encourage and support your own efforts?  Do you spend your time on the golf course focused on what you want to happen or what isn't happening?  The bottom line is, do you believe in you?

You can check out Jon Gordon's article here.  Better yet, purchase the book The Energy Bus.  It will change your life if you allow it.

Energy Vampires as defined by Jon Gordon do the following:
Negative comments: "Did I tell you how much I hate my life and work?  Did I tell you what so and so did to me?  Did I tell you how nothing goes right?
Dream snatching:  "You can't do that.  "You'll never succeed at that."  "Are you living in a fantasy land?"  "You should do this instead."
Shrinking devices:  "What is wrong with you?  "Can you do anything right?"  "Why did we hire you anyway?"
Team Destruction:  "We'll never make it."  "It's Joe's fault."  "Everyone is clueless."

As a team, we will quickly recognize these comments if we hear them and then easily dismiss them.  We're trained to give no power to Energy Vampires.  However, what happens when the Energy Vampire lives within us?

As we read the book and discussed it as a team, we envisioned Energy Vampires coming from the outside, but we've quickly learned that we have some habits that allow the Energy Vampire that lives within us to lure us off the Energy Bus.  If you notice Mr. Gordon's writing above, you'll notice that most of the explanations for how Energy Vampires work are through questions.  What questions are you asking yourself in a round of golf?  What questions are you asking yourself in life?  Think through these and understand their power.  Here are some examples and some statements with which you can replace these insidious questions.

  • Why can't I make anything?  Replace with:  I'm rolling it nicely and I'll get another chance on the next hole!
  • What's going to happen today?  Replace with:  I feel prepared and I'm up to whatever I face on the golf course.
  • What's wrong with me?  Replace with:  I'm learning new stuff all the time!  Sometimes I have to learn the hard way, but that's ok, because I'll be better tomorrow.
  • What's my problem?  Replace with:  I'm not perfect, but I'm going to act like a champion no matter what happens today!
  • I wonder where this shot will end up.  Replace with:  I see my target, I feel my swing, I can trust myself completely to hit the shot.
  • I'm so dumb.  Replace with:  Wow, that cost me some shots, but this bounce back is going to be stupendous!  
  • That was a bad hole, I need to make up for it.  Replace with:  I have a great game plan and I'm going to take it one at a time and follow it today.  No need to worry about the past or future.
  • I really need to go low today!  Replace with:  I'm going to do my very best with each shot I face today.

The funny thing about being an Energy Vampire is it's sometimes based on long held habits or ways of thinking.  One of my players broke down crying after playing good golf last week.  When I asked her why, she answered that she'd spent the round holding her frustrations in all day and they just bubbled over.  I was really proud of her for working hard to be a positive force for her teammates out there and for working to follow our goal of staying positive.  However, if she was fighting frustration, she wasn't truly being positive.  She was putting her energy to fighting negativity, which is different than being positive.  She told me she had an incredible ball striking day, but made absolutely no putts.  We've all been there, right?  Those days when nothing falls are tough to take.  The ability to stay positive means you focus on what you're doing well, your opportunities and take something good away from each hole.  Touring pros are awesome at this skill and it shows by long stretches of pars with a few bogies followed by a string of birdies.  They are very skilled at not looking for patterns when they play but instead looking for the positive and the opportunity.  

The important thing about that last sentence is, being positive with yourself is a skill that you can learn and work to make a habit.  First, you have to recognize how and when you are your own Energy Vampire.  Then you have to turn the tables on that Vampire and kill it with positivism.  Finally, you have to make that attitude a habit.  Simply fighting the negativity isn't enough.  You have to take the Next and Big Step and fuel your ride with Positive Energy!!!


Monday, October 3, 2016

Moving Away From Fear

Are you playing golf with fear?  Here are some signs that might signal fear in your game:
  • You plan your shots/day by what you don't want to happen
    • "I don't want to hit it left into the water on this hole."
    • "I don't want to leave this putt short."
    • "I don't want to embarrass myself today."
  • You have a hard time committing to your target.
    • At the top of my swing, I lose my focus and steer it away from trouble.
    • I can't get comfortable over the ball or settle into my set up.
    • Whenever there's trouble left, I seem to tighten up.
  • You're watchful for signs of trouble.
    • You warm up with anxiety and try to hit every shot perfect on the range and make every putt.
    • You get down after a mistake, because you know it might signal problems.
    • When you get in trouble, you press to get free of it.

What is the opposite of fear for you? Security.  You need to feel secure on the course in order to leave your fears behind.  What allows you to feel security?  Acceptance.  You must accept that you won't be perfect, but that doesn't mean you can't still be great.  You must accept that your nerves are normal and signal that your game is important to you and not that you might fail.  You must accept that you will have challenges and know that you have enough character to overcome them.  

If you've decided you need to be brave on the golf course, you may be channeling bravado instead of actually finding security.  Bravado is usually a cover for insecurity or fear.  The players who are secure in their games and in themselves as competitors have a calm confidence that comes from their acceptance.  Every great player in the game of golf commented on how humbling the game was, how often they failed and how they would never truly master it.  Within this acceptance of their own shortcomings came security.  

Mark Twain
Here are some tools to help you if you're feeling fearful instead of secure on the golf course.
  • Preparation.  You can't work too hard.  Tackle your weaknesses that you know you possess so they don't emerge at the most important times.
  • Game plan.  Understand your strengths and play to them.  Figure out a way to negotiate any golf course in your own fashion and stick to it under pressure.
  • Pay Attention.  Listen to your self-talk and channel it the way you need it to go.  Choose your targets by stating to yourself what you want.  Be a positive force in your own mind and heart.
  • Vow to have strong pre-shot and post-shot routines.  See your shot before you hit it and commit to the picture.  Accept whatever you did and let it go after you've hit, whether it was great or poor.
  • Anticipate Challenges.  Know that you will face problems, mistakes, poor shots and bad bounces.  Know before they happen how you will handle them and welcome the chance to show your grit.  
  • Enjoy.  Remember that you're PLAYING a game.  Embrace the nature, smile at the fun, enjoy some conversation with your fellow competitors and keep your head up.  Don't forget that golf is a game.

Playing golf with fear is no fun.  Find the security you need through acceptance of what you take into the game.  Do your best on each shot and find the joy in playing this great game.


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