Struggle is Your Friend

I hope you have had some great experiences on the golf course this Summer.

However, I know that if you are at all like me, you may be experiencing some struggle in your game right now.

Or, perhaps your game is solid, but you just can’t seem to put it together on the course, or in competitive events – where it seems to matter most.

I totally get that.

Today I went back in the blogs to find this message about struggle and it’s value on our journey to mastery.

Check it out here:

The Sun’ll Come Out…

“It’s always darkest before the sunrise.”

Have you ever heard that before? I have. And honestly, I’m not sure if it’s technically true.

However I think that the metaphor still works for me. It goes something like this:

Occasionally, it seems like we will never emerge from our struggle. While plodding away in the darkness (a metaphor for struggle) things can begin to feel very heavy. And this can cause us to lose hope in ever transcending the darkness (or ultimately overcoming the struggle).

But then something magic happens. After working a long time on something, breakthroughs happen. Insights appear. Hope grows. The struggle ends.

And then the sun comes out. And life is good again.

My wife and I recently spent the weekend in Nashville with our son Kevin who is a young musician and producer. (It was dark and rainy in Nashville…which made me wish for the sun…and partially inspired the idea for this blog.)

For people like Kevin and his peers in the music biz – smart, talented people working very hard on their passions, but having not yet reached the level of success they are aiming to reach one day – the darkness of struggle can be an impediment to realizing dreams.

What is so inspiring about being around Kevin and his music-industry friends though, is that they are so committed to the work that they never stop moving forward. Yes…they are tempted sometimes to compare themselves to others…but the ones who thrive in these conditions are dedicated to the process of improvement. They just don’t get stuck (very often – or for very long) in WHERE they are at any given time. They TRUST in the process so much that in essence, success is already theirs.

Even if it seems dark right now. Even if there is no guarantee that “the sun will out” on their career.

And this is exactly as it should be. Struggle is necessary to grow talent.

Dan Coyle (Author, Cleveland, OH resident and friend to the Moe Norman Single Plane Swing Community) revealed a decade ago in his book The Talent Code the importance of embracing struggle when learning new skills. Coyle references advances in science which show that struggle actually BUILDS and REINFORCES the physical network of neurons in our brain which allow us to successfully build the skill needed to perform at high levels.

(In The Talent Code, Coyle also reveals the importance in practice.)

As you think about preparing for another year of golf, you no doubt may be faced with the idea of struggle as you work on matching the Single Plane Swing model and ultimately plaingy better golf.

Since we never know how long this is going to take – there are many factors and variables to consider – it certainly can seem like the struggle to improve (or maybe just stink a little less?)  is never-ending. If you are feeling that, I want you to know that that is ok.

You are exactly where you should be.

Having said that, there are a couple things you can do.

  • Stop comparing yourself to other golfers. Compare yourself today to the golfer you were yesterday. This is the only comparison that matters.
  • Reframe the Single Plane Swing journey. Remember that it is not about IF you can get this…it’s only about WHEN. (And then drop any attachment you have to WHEN success will come for you. )
  • When things get really heavy for you, step outside of yourself and focus on serving others for a little while. (When we operate from the perspective of “service to others,” our mindset is much more positive and productive.)
  • Enjoy the journey. The small victories.
  • Know that success is already yours. And remember that growth comes from struggle.

Struggle is what is required for growth. Struggle is what is required to layer your neurotransmitters with the amazing brain protein sheath (myelin) that will make the changes to your swing long-lasting. Struggle in practice is what is required to ensure that you can take your swing onto the course and actually play better.

So if it feels a little “dark” right now. That’s ok. It’s actually supposed to.

With some continued focus, intentionality and practice and maybe a little reframing, the sun’ll come out for you and your swing. I have no doubt.

Have a great week!





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.

5 thoughts to “Struggle is Your Friend”

  1. So it is ok to just keep struggling and trying and in the end things will come together.
    Just when does the journey and process of learning become the process of mastering the event.?

    1. Interesting Question. I think that we should reassess the word “mastery”. Maybe competence is better. When you are competent, you can then refine and improve to a higher level. This might be a way to define Mastery.

      1. I think what really begins to happen, Flynn is that the concept we hold of what “struggle” is begins to shift. We feel the pain of growth and learning less and less – that is, we become less and less debilitated by “the struggle.” The way this looks practically for us Single Plane Golfers is that we willingly step into learning mode fully recognizing that our journey to mastery – or competence – it is iterative…that we probably will make progress a little bit at a time. So, we first get good at achieving position 1. Then position 2. Then a proper move into the lead knee. Etc. The reframe comes when we realize that the pain from “struggle” is a sign we are learning…and as a result, our internal struggle doesn’t feel as heavy.

        I consider the journey and process of learning AND the process of mastery to be one and the same. But as Todd alludes to, there is no need to get hung up on the word “mastery” as competence is a very good word for what we are trying to achieve with the Single Plane Swing.

        Having said that, most experts I know of consider mastery as an IDEAL that may never be achieved, and yet it is what we strive toward.

  2. WOW, I needed this!! Not comparing myself to others. Just compare myself to what I did the day before. I don’t play with the other ladies, I felt I wasn’t good enough! But now, so what, That one drive, one chip that goes in the hole, well it’s awesome!!! So changing my way of thinking!! I read your articles. T hanks for sharing.

    1. Love that Letitia!
      You are right…no need to compare yourself to the other ladies. go out and play with them and enjoy the journey!
      Glad this resonated with you!

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