Who Are You Being?

In early May, I had the pleasure of attending the 5-Day Alumni Camp in Orlando and spending some time with some great Single Plane Swing students, including Bill and Debbie Miller.

The Millers have been attending GGA schools for a while… so you may have run into them. (I hope so – because they are awesome to be around! ) And they are no strangers to performing at a high level since they spent many years at the highest levels of the sport fishing world on the Gulf Coast of Florida.

On Thursday of Alumni Camp week, we had an on-course experience – a sort of Big Break Orlando at the Eagle Creek course. (The GGA team likes to call this event “Clay’s Revenge” because veteran GGA instructor Clay Farnsworth is in charge of setting up the challenges on each hole.)

It’s a fun event for the attendees – a chance to hit real shots on a great golf course, and an opportunity to take what they have been working on all week and see what it looks like in a simulated game-setting.

My role there that day was to help the players to get out of their heads. To inspire them to STOP thinking so much and to start PLAYING the game. Even though it feels like it sometimes, hitting a golf ball is not a cognitive endeavor, it’s an athletic one.

A couple holes into the Big Break event, I caught up with Bill. His game was off a little – and he wasn’t hitting the ball very cleanly (..to be charitable). And he knew it… but he just couldn’t quite get his technical thinking and swing mechanics out of his head.

The result was that he was in a bit of struggle.

The good news is that the prior day, Bill and the rest of the group heard Todd Graves talking about the concept of the Alter Ego… the notion that we can – in a way – take on any identity we want to at any time in order to solve for a performance challenge. So, if you want to putt better on the course for example, take on the identity of Jordan Spieth. Or if you want to hit long straight drives, pretend you are Moe Norman. You get the idea.

Who are you BEING on the golf course?

There is some pretty compelling research that shows the performance value of this approach.

In fact, here is a great place to start – one of our favorite resources on the concept of The Alter Ego: Click Here.

It was also the case that in the moments prior to the Big Break round that morning, I challenged the group to ask themselves: “Who am I being?”…and “Who does this moment call for?” – both of which are designed to inspire the players to think about an IDENTITY that they could take on that would help them perform better on the course.

So, when I caught up with Bill, and he was in struggle, all I had to say was: “WHO does this moment call for?”… and immediately Bill’s eyes lit up. There WAS someone he was thinking about. There WAS someone who he could call upon – an identity – that was a great model for high performance on the course. In fact, it was his FORMER SELF!

It turns out that Bill at one point was a low single-digit handicap golfer. Over time, his fishing and his family and other pursuits got in the way of playing as much golf – and so it had been a little while since he had connected with that version of himself. But the important thing was that he could conceive of an identity (It actually didn’t matter that it was his former self) that he could channel during the Big Break event… one that would help him to get out of his thinking and back into an athletic game-playing mode.

With a big smile on his face, and some fresh perspective, Bill stepped back into the game he once knew with an identity that could help him perform a lot better than he had been playing so far that day. He had a plan.

A couple holes later I watched as he had completely turned his on-course experience around. He was playing the game, not over-thinking, being creative, hitting great shots, and having fun too.

Later as we reflected on what had happened, I was telling Bill how much fun it was to watch him take on that new identity.

Bill said:

You came up and I asked you what was going on with my swing. I wanted to know what the quick fix was… what I could do to play better. You gave me the “…channel your 6-handicap former self.” pep talk. And then you said, “You’re an athlete, play like one.” I tried to visualize that and stopped thinking mechanical and just played. I got much better and we used my shots a number of times including a clutch drive on 18.
So…think about your next round. As you get ready to give yourself a little pep talk of your own, remember that you have a choice about who will you show up as.

Will it be that weekend golfer who just can’t buy a break? … who always hit’s it into the woods off #7 tee? …who never pars #12?…who will never master this “flexed lead knee” thing?

Or will you take on a more powerful identity – as a player with a pro-level attitude who understands and appreciates the variability inherent in the game, who accepts every bounce, and who is ready for his next shot to be his best shot – no matter what?

I think I know the answer.

Hit ‘em straight!


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.

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