By Paul Monahan – GGA Performance Mindset Coach
It’s a big part of what we look for when we play golf.
Everybody I know on the Single Plane Swing journey – myself included – wants to play better golf, hit it farther, shoot lower scores and beat their buddies for once.
So what do we do? We focus on: Hitting the ball farther. Shooting lower scores. Beating our buddies.
And what could be wrong with that? After all, we all know that if you want something – you focus on that thing and get it. Right?
Well…sometimes yes. And sometimes no.
The truth is that when it comes to performing at our best, (and even learning a new way to hit a golf ball) focusing on the process is more important than focusing on the result – a bit of a paradox – but one worth breaking down.
In my practice, I often help my clients to become more aware of their thoughts at any given time. The ideas that you anchor to each moment matter because they drive your mental and emotional state, as well as how you show up to perform in each moment. (Especially during those times I call “critical moments” when you feel – consciously or not – like you have a lot invested in a particular outcome)
One of the most important concepts we often discuss is the distinction between operating from a Results Orientation versus a Mastery Orientation…a distinction that helps them to understand two very different perspectives through which to view critical moments.
Here is how I explain it:
To operate from a Results Orientation means that you maintain the perspective that you MUST achieve a specific result. In essence, it’s as if you are holding a tight grip on your story(s) about a pre-defined result: sinking a six-footer, driving the ball in the fairway, reaching the green with this shot…etc.
None of those stories sound too uncommon. However, when you operate from a Results Orientation your THOUGHTS often seem more like: “I need to sink this putt…OR ELSE.” “I need to drive it into the fairway, OR ELSE.” “I need to reach the green, OR ELSE.”
And your thoughts drift toward what you might LOSE.
The result? Pressure. Nervous energy. Indecision. Doubt. Herky-jerky putts. Anything, but freedom and flow. (I think you get the picture.)
Operating from a Mastery Orientation, on the other hand, happens when you maintain the perspective that every one of your experiences is merely a step on your journey (or path) to mastery.
All your performances – each shot on the golf course, every sales call, each presentation – have a neutral value even if they produce results not aligned with your desires.
If you hit the fairway from the #1 tee box, great; enjoy that. Take satisfaction in it. If you find the right rough, still great. Relish the opportunity to learn and grow.
And so, operating from this perspective feels much freer, more relaxed and less emotionally intense, a state that promotes your best performances.
When you take a Mastery Orientation onto the golf course, you prevent your primitive survival responses – anxiousness, doubt, nerves, frustration – from kicking in and hijacking the moment. You can experience things more objectively and access your skills and abilities much easier without expending the kind of energy that leaves you mentally and emotionally drained.
Importantly as well, when you operate from a Mastery Orientation, your focus changes from results to process. You TRUST that the results you want will come so long as you get the process steps right.
How would this play out in real life?
You may decide that you want to drive the ball 240yds in the fairway at least six times in your next round. Great. That’s your goal. Put it up on the wall.
Then set it aside.
Why? Because focusing on your goal won’t get you to your goal.
But a focus on the process steps WILL.
So what precisely to focus on?
It will be different for everyone, depending on where you are in your own single plane swing development. But you might decide to focus on:
Slowing down your pre-shot routine.
Feeling a “released” lead hand as you grip the club at address.
Feeling the braced trail leg.
Rotating properly through position 3 to impact.
The key: You need not focus on your goal. Instead, trust that if you develop mastery of the process components, achievement of your goal will be the natural by-product.
The other key: Let go of your attachment to a specific result. If you do everything right, and still don’t get the result you had hoped for, that’s ok. That’s called golf. That’s called life. You are going to be okay.
So, as you learn and develop as a single plane golfer, focus on the process, accept the outcomes and cultivate the understanding for yourself that everything you do in this endeavor is just one more part of the journey.
And trust that if you do it enough, and in the correct ways, the results will come. You will hit it farther than you ever have, score lower than before and play better golf.
Paul Monahan, PCC is a member of the International Coach Federation and is a certified COR.E Performance Dynamics™ Specialist. He resides in Cleveland, Ohio with his wife Paula and is the proud dad to three young men.
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