Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Goal to Win

It's that great time of year when we look forward with our wishes and dreams.  We look at where we stand and where we want to stand in six months.  We've prepared to prepare by reading, practicing and talking about the process.  We've been told to burn our goals and choose one word.  We've heard about having a big goal and small goals to reach along the way.  We've been told that outcome goals are bad and process goals are good.  It feels like goal-setting is akin to nutrition.  What is good for you is constantly changing and argued, with all of us on our own to figure out who to listen to and what works best for us individually.

We've looked at the greats, such as Tiger Woods, put their goals on their walls as young kids.  Here's an interesting article about Tiger and his goals.  We've also heard of the goals of players such as Lorena Ochoa, who wanted to be the best in the world and retire early enough to raise a family.  Here is an article about Lorena's entry into the World Golf Hall of Fame

The one thing that's clear to me is that the best in the world had that goal and worked hard to accomplish it.  This lead me to think about what is meant by outcome goals, goals we can effect or reach and goals that are silly.  As a coach, it's long bothered me to hear people say that we don't need or want outcome goals.  Being the best in the world is clearly an outcome goal.  Without the goal, would Tiger or Lorena have worked as hard as they did?  Would they have learned as effectively?  Would they have allowed coaching?  Would they have adjusted their games, attitudes or strategies to rise to the next level of expertise?  No, they wanted the biggest gold ring in professional golf and they had a big reach to grab it.  They did what it took to reach their goals.

Some outcome goals are silly.  Let's say you go to your high school graduation and hear a great speech from the commencement speaker.  You go home, search youtube and hear more and more great speeches from great people.  You then set the goal to be a great commencement speaker some day.  You've set an outcome goal.  It is certainly one that is achievable, but doesn't it miss the point of the example of these speakers?  They've been chosen to talk, because they've been leaders, innovators, creators or successful in some walk of life.  There probably isn't one of them who set out to be a commencement speaker.  It was an outcome that came from their success in other fields.  Setting this outcome goal is probably silly.  Instead, a goal might be to learn and succeed in life in a way to be a meaningful mentor to others.  That's an outcome goal that accomplishes the same thing as becoming a commencement speaker, but focuses on the "why" of being that speaker.

What is your why?  Do you have a purpose for your goals?  Is your outcome goal based on the achievement or the recognition of the achievement?  Will your outcome goal allow you to explore your capabilities?  Will it lead to success as you define it or are you working to please others and their standards?  The trick in your choice of an outcome goal is in choosing it based on what you want to achieve, not what others want.  If it stretches you to be your absolute best, it will come with plenty of failures, setbacks, obstacles and disappointments.  In order to persevere through all of this, your goal needs to be completely yours.  You'll also need to figure out your why.  Sometimes the why comes later, so don't worry if you don't have a purpose when the goal is set.  It might present itself later, but look for it as you go.

The reality is, if you want to be number one, you have to first think of yourself as that player.  Here's a glimpse into that mindset from Patrick Reed.    He was roundly criticized for his statements, but his goal was obvious.  It's easier to talk about it after it's happened than before, but the mindset has to precede the occurrence.  His comparison to others is probably not needed, but that's another thing the greats do.  They work to pick off the best.  When Tiger spent 14 years as the best player in the world, every young gun coming up dreamed of knocking him off that pedestal.  If you want to be the best, you have to first beat the best.

What outcome goals are silly for you?  The answer is, anything you can't control.  It's tough to set the goal of being named to the All America team, because it's a vote.  However, you can have the goal of winning multiple times, averaging better than par and beating the best in the country when you face them.  Those goals if reached would make it pretty tough to leave you off the All America team. They're within your control.  If you say winning is beyond your control, you are disputing your ability to hone your game to the point that allows it to score on any course and rise to the occasion under pressure.  You can't play defense in golf, so you can't control what others do, but you can make the goal to be the best and then work tirelessly to do it no matter what obstacles you face.  Whether or not that's the answer to what you need or want is up to you, but it is rare that a player gets to the number one spot in the world without aiming for it.  Check out this interview with In Bee Park. 

It's an interesting article, because in it, In Bee talks of the balance of performance goals and intrinsic goals, such as her happiness.  Even though she won six times, including three majors in one year, she wasn't happy because she had set her goals too high and hadn't reached them.  It taught her to balance her outcome goals with her goal of happiness to find a balance in her life.  Since giving this interview, In Bee won three more majors including the British that she spoke of wanting to win in the interview.  She also stated in the interview that her goal for winning majors was infinity, because why place a limit?

Her interview points out that outcome goals may not satisfy your needs as a person and learning to balance outcome goals with process goals is needed.  While popular performance coaches tell you that outcome goals are bad for you, the greatest players in the world set just those goals and work to achieve them.  We can learn from the best and adjust for our individual goals accordingly.  Being afraid of outcome goals might mean being afraid of reaching them or putting in the effort needed to reach them.  The best simply don't court that fear.  Here's an article from this week about Jason Day's goals for 2107.   He wants to win, win majors and be number one for the entire year.  I don't hear any fear in his goals.  He's striving and stretching.  He's finding new things to challenge himself.  Along with the outcome goals, he has a goal of remaining healthy.  His outcome goals will be effected by this goal more than the goals of his competitors.  He has chosen to focus on something that he works to control.

It's time for us to set the goal of winning, winning majors and seeking the number one spot in college golf.  Without that aim, can we expect to work hard enough to be that team?  Without that aim, will we learn what we need to to be the best?  Without that aim, will the obstacles we face overwhelm us?  Without that aim, will we make the adjustments that are needed to perform better than any other team?  My thought is aim high.  Choose an outcome goal that requires the most of everyone on the team.  Work to achieve the outcome while also setting intrinsic goals that keep you balanced.  There isn't a thing wrong with setting goals unless you consider disappointment when they aren't reached to be debilitating.  I find disappointment a spur that moves me to better coaching, better recruiting, better learning, better adjustments, better leading and better scoring.  Better every day is what I believe.  Winning it all is our goal.

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