Elongate Your Focus?

As Kevin Streelman lined up a 20 foot putt on the 10th hole in the final round of the 2021 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island’s Ocean course, CBS announcer Trevor Immelman commented on how Streelman and his playing partner Louis Oosthuizen were playing. Neither had been able to put together a meaningful move up the leaderboard toward Mickelson and Koepka…and both had posted rather lackluster scores on the front nine. (Oosthuizen shot even par, and Streelman was two over.)

Immelman said: “This feels like a must-make for Streelman…these guys are leaking energy.”

(Streelman missed that putt and went on to shoot a 3 over 75.)

Attempting to realize your full potential in any moment – no matter the stakes, no matter the situation – is a very worthwhile aspiration. The challenge is that sometimes our best performances seem elusive.

Why is that? What gets in the way?

Well, I was intrigued by the language that Immelman used on the broadcast, and was reminded of a conversation I had a few weeks ago with Shawn Huls, director of high performance for the Cleveland Browns. (Yes – the same Cleveland Browns who improved from 6-10 in 2019 to 11-5 in 2020!)

Huls, an expert in human performance who has worked in the NFL for many years and with the Navy Seals elite Seal Team 6 prior to that, likes to use two metaphors to describe what often gets in the way of great performances: leakage and seepage.

Huls says that leakage happens when your positive and productive thinking “leaks” out of your head and is replaced by negative thoughts like doubt, worry, anxiety and fear…which create overthinking and diminished confidence. Leakage shows up when your inner dialogue sounds like: “You loser…you hit it over there again!!??” Or “You are so stupid…I can’t believe you did that.” Or… “You’re never going to get this swing down.”

Similarly, Huls says that seepage happens when negative words you hear in your environment “seep” into your head: the negative talk from your tribe like: “Why do you bother working so hard at that…?” Or “Why do you stick with that Single Plane Swing?” Or… “You’ll never make putts with a putter like that.”

Eliminate leakage and seepage, and you can set yourself up for high performance more often.

One guy on the Ocean Course on Sunday who was NOT leaking energy was Phil Mickelson. And we will be talking about his radical mental game approach to the Championship – elongating his focus, staying present and in the moment, visualizing and committing to the shot, …etc – for a long time. What a remarkable performance for an “old” guy.

Playing well today – or any day is about maximizing the skills you have that day.

If you want to accomplish that, you must bring intentionality to your processes just like you saw Phil Mickelson doing all day at Kiawah Island.

And you must NOT leak energy – or have negative energy seep into your thinking.

Stop the leakage. Get better at taming your inner dialogue. Build a language set to use in challenging situations that supports your desire for high achievement on the course, rather than tearing it down. Be your own biggest support network.

Eliminate the seepage. You do you. Strive to live your best life every day…on and off the course. Stand strong in your convictions to move boldly toward your goals: fewer putts per round, hitting more fairways and greens, more sand saves…whatever!  And don’t let other’s negative paradigms get in the way of your goals, dreams or aspirations.

Paul Monahan

Paul Monahan

Paul Monahan is an International Coach Federation (ICF) - credentialed coach working in the arena of human potential. Paul’s clients are leaders, executives, athletes and musicians who are serious about transforming how they perform in critical moments. His experiences in leadership and development over a highly-successful 25-year corporate career have created powerful context and understanding for the leaders and executives he coaches. Additionally, his passions and experiences in sports and music have uniquely positioned Paul to profoundly impact his clients in those areas as well.

2 thoughts to “Elongate Your Focus?”

  1. Great article, Paul. Read something I liked this week as a mantra to use no matter the circumstance you’re in: “What’s your target?” Immediately puts focus where it needs to be no matter how well or poorly you’re playing.

    Keep up the good work. Always enjoy reading your stuff.

  2. Great article, Paul. Read something I liked this week as a mantra to use no matter the circumstance you’re in: “What’s your target?” Immediately puts focus where it needs to be no matter how well or poorly you’re playing.

    Keep up the good work. Always enjoy reading your stuff.

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