Last year my wife and I joined a bowling league with a bunch of friends and now bowl once a month from September – May. It’s been a lot of fun learning what it takes to be more consistent, to roll the ball where I want to and to post higher scores.

And since I’m pretty competitive, I wanted to play at a high level if I could! So, I got my shoes and was fitted with a new ball. (Plus bag, rosin, slide powder, ball cleaner, you know, the works!)

(For your dangerous bowlers, you know that bowling is very complicated with lots of subtleties and nuance…it’s pretty fascinating!!)

For as long as I can remember, bowling has been a family tradition around the holidays. And this year was no different, except that we bowled twice while our boys were home. During one of the games, my son Joe decided that he wanted to throw my ball and so he rolled it a few times.

My new bowling ball is a “hook ball” …one that will hook to the left for a right-hander like me. It requires a different delivery methodology compared to a “straight” ball…and so it has taken me a little while to get used to it.

Joe is a pretty level-headed thinker. And when he first threw the ball, he immediately knew that he must have done something incorrectly. But he was calm and collected and in essence turned to me and just said. “How did that look?”

I offered him a couple of thoughts on how he could get closer to the model as I understood it, and he gave it another try. This time he got a lot closer, and the ball had a nice gentle right-to-left hook. Not perfect. But he made progress right away.

I believe that Joe’s success came from a willingness to be open to feedback AND a genuine curiosity about the process. He wasn’t stuck in his story or impacted by imperfect results. He took action, observed and tried to analyze what he saw. All without a lot of negative emotion, even though he didn’t get exactly the results, he might have hoped for it.

When is the last time you were curious about something? You know that feeling..a genuine interest in and wonder about what is happening, how something works, or how to make a specific thing better.

When we are truly curious, we are in a state of optimal receptiveness, and open to discovery. Being curious can be fun.

The journey of improving in bowling, our golf swing – or anything for that matter – is always enhanced when curiosity shows up for us. However, expectation often shows up instead. And when this happens, our emotional state intensifies as we measure reality against our story about what SHOULD be happening. (Not a great plan for maintaining a productive performance mindset.)

Frustration, anger, and irritation at the things that go “wrong” are how often we experience challenges. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You CAN shift your thinking – and your outcomes – by anchoring to CURIOSITY in those same difficult moments.

What does curiosity sound?

When you hit the driver OB on your first hole: Instead of: “Way to go you, big dummy!!” Try this. “Hmmm. That’s interesting. I wonder why that happened?”

When you miss that important putt: Instead of: “You are the WORST human being ever!!!!!!” Try this “That’s interesting. What can I learn from that?”

I know it seems a little far-fetched to engage in that kind of dialogue with yourself…but believe me, it works.

You have the right to be angry. But that anger may cause you to disconnect from your best thinking and ultimately, your ability to perform well.

Larry Senn, the author of Up the Mood Elevator, says that if leaders wanted to perform at their best, they have to work on being more curious. He said that the leader who can be curious about the things happening in front of them is FAR more able to tap into the best version of themselves.

Why? Because being curious creates a different feeling for us. It allows us to stay open and objective, and less judgmental or even annoyed.

The same is true for anyone who wants to perform at their best. Anywhere. Anytime.

As you start the new year and think about what you want to accomplish on the golf course, think about a commitment to cultivating CURIOSITY…the sense of wonder and real discernment that can lead to leaps in your skill and performance development.

So perhaps a motto for 2018 is one we can borrow from a famous beer commercial – with some modification:

All the best for a happy and prosperous 2018!

-Paul

 

PS…I’d love to hear how your ability to be curious in the face of challenge impacts your game. Drop me a note and let me know how it’s going: paul@paulmonahancoaching.com

Paul Monahan, PCC is a Peak-Performance coach, member of the International Coach Federation and 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. He works with elite-level performers and leaders, helping them to expand their awareness so that they perform at their best more consistently.