In golf, there are only two things that affect your game. Yes, sorry, just the two things. The first is physics. The golf ball, your clubs, the course are all subject to the laws of physics.
No, the only non-physical part is mental. There are those that will scientifically argue that this too is physics – after all, the mental part is about electrons, neurons etc that obey the laws of physics. Yes this may be true, however, there is an important distinction, you can do nothing about the laws of physics. Not a thing. Rien. Zip. Nada. Naff all. Zero. You can’t change it – you can use it – because the laws of physics don’t change – knowing what physics is at work and how to use that knowledge to increase distance, improve direction and so on – now that’s useful knowledge – see, you now wish that you’d paid more attention in school.
The distinction is that the mental part of the game is something that you can change. Yes the neurons and so on that carry the messages and inform the parts of the body to do what they do will do so, because they obey the laws of physics. It is the message that they carry that you can change. Now, since this actually applies to everything in your life it could be a revelatory moment for you in everything. So, we come back to the basic critical decision point…
It’s important to preface this section with a reminder that everyone,every single human being has a choice to do something, or not do it.To learn something, or not to. Everything we do in this life is a choice. Yes, there are many many (far too many) people on this planet who do not have a good choice – or a ‘real’ choice. There are, too many people who’s struggle for life overwhelms their choices in life. The choice to live or die in such circumstances, is however difficult or impossible, still a choice. Please realise that I am not denigrating anyone here, nor am I saying it’s easy simply because I assert that they have a choice. I simply want to ensure that you have a mindset that you can be at choice. Improving the opportunities for choice for the millions of those with little real choice is another matter entirely.
So, if you are at choice, which frequency do you listen, cause or effect?How you influence others is somewhat obvious, but how you influence yourself is perhaps a little more obscure. We will take the obvious route first and then apply it to self. In developing your leadership advantage, we are very strongly focusing on your self-leadership – how you lead yourself to greatness in everything that you do.
Why spend so much time here? Because leadership is pretty much allabout influencing others.
When I ask this question in our workshops, I am usually met with blank stares at first. I call them ‘blank stares’ because to be looked at as if you are completely off your trolley isn’t something I choose to reinforce. The first response from that first brave soul suggests that there is no need to influence oneself. Basically, it runs like this: I decide to do something, I tell myself to do it, and I do it. No influence is required. I don’t have to ask myself nicely, or threaten myself with unpleasant consequences, or persuade myself that it will be worthwhile. Really? If we could slow down the thought processes going on, you might think differently.
Let’s take a slightly different approach. I suspect that you have, inside you, at least two ‘voices’ – the pro voice and the con voice. The optimist and the pessimist. The good and the bad. You may have more, you may not consider them as ‘voices’ – that’s OK, I hope that you can work with me on the concept for a little while.
The first station on 55.5 is supportive – bolstering your ego, always proud of you and your achievements. The second, on 66.6 is the doubter, always casting doubts in your mind, running you down, always suggesting that others are trying to get you, that you should not listen to 55.5, it always lets you down – you never realise the dreams that 55.5 suggests. 66.6 reminds you of the difficulties you had the last time you tried to do this or that. How nothing ever works for you, that it’s all about luck and fate and chance and that you just are not a lucky person. If you buy a lottery ticket, you will always miss by one number at best. That nobody else deserves to win anything either. Basically, this is a bad voice.
I can see some of you nodding your heads as you read this. Don’t worry, you’re not schizophrenic – this is normal, everyone has this going on. Some days it’s like a continuous debate, others, one or both are quiet with little to say. You know you have a problem when you cannot distinguish between the voices and which of you is real.
Here’s the two stations output for a few common golfing scenarios…
Approaching the first Tee on competition day: ‘Well, it’s a lovely morning with plenty of gusty breezes to knock your ball off centre, and a touch of rain in the air, but very unpredictable whether it’ll rain now or later. You did some good practice yesterday but you know it’ll all go to pieces today don’t you? You know that you always screw up on the first drive and there’s no mulligans today. See your competition today, wow, that first group were good weren’t they. No chance you’ll keep up with them is there. Still, perhaps you can just enjoy the game for a change and not worry about winning or losing – after all you know you’ll lose, so why get your hopes up? Ridiculous game, I don’t know why you bother, should have stayed home and cut the grass. be more useful than out here, being mocked by your friends… oh no, talking of which, there they are, why do they have to come and watch my first drive. They’ll cough or chatter just as I’m lining up, I know they will. Oh well, my turn now, what a disaster, prepare for the worst and don’t get angry…
First Tee shot: So nicely lined up, but then anyone can put a ball on a tee can’t they. Now settle down, breath, how’s the grip – that instructor why did he have to change my grip, it won’t work. Right align my feet, look up, look down, those people down there, are in my line, why do they have to stand there, don’t they know they could be hit… calm yourself, that’s right, may as well get calm now, because once you hit it there won’;t be any calm left, And if you screw up this drive, it’ll all be downhill for the whole day. never recover, so get this right. Wiggle the bum, yes nice, settle, legs bent just right, what if my weight shifts before I strike then hit those people standing there. i wouldn’t mind hitting that smug bastard – he’s such a flash git. Custom clubs, custom balls, bet he cheats, never puts a foot wrong, wipe that smug grin off his face, I’ll show ‘im. Back swing, nice, but is it right, no of course not, arm down, elbow’s bent at the wrong time, as usual, THWACK….. follow-through may as well let go of the club, it’ll go further anyway.
In spite of this, by some divine intervention, the ball soars through the air and lands smack down the middle of the fairway, 220 yards at least beautifully set up for a second onto the green and a possible birdie: Whoa – didn’t know you had it in you. Nice shot, so lucky, you’d never do that again, not in a month of Sundays. Still, plenty of time to screw up yet…
Sorry, I just can’t write anymore of this – it’s just too depressing. Is this you? And, were you the one who said that they didn’t influence themselves?
What a beautiful day, a few gusts, possible rain in the air. Be a good idea to look at the trees as we walk down the course, see where the gusts are going. if it rains, we’ll change clubs and, quick, borrow an umbrella from Jim there, he can pop back and get another from his car. So nice that my friends are here to cheer me on. Great guys. Now I’m going to show them a great drive. I can see it now, smack down the middle of the fairway, perfect for a chip up to the green and a birdie. I can’t wait to pick up that trophy at the end of the day. Good to have some strong competition – nothing better than a real challenge.
First Tee shot: Breath nice and deep, slow my heartbeat and see that drive. A little gusty from left to right over those trees, just align a fraction to the left because this ball’s going to soar above that line. Glove, into the zone. Complete focus, nice alignment, well done, now a beauty practice swing, nice and loose in the shoulders. Firm stance, good lad, check alignment, now trust your swing. THWACK.
In spite of this, by some divine intervention, the ball soars through the air and too far to the left, way over to the left and lands smack down into the rough by the trees, maybe even really in the trees: Beautiful drive, well done, aligned just a little too far left, so we’ll make sure to fix that. I think maybe the wind dropped as well. Nice lay-up for the second shot – I can use that chip techniques I learned from watching Seve on TV, good for a par if I’m really in the rough, and good for a birdie if it’s not too long. Good, well done.
Now, which station do you want to listen to? The one that derides you no matter how great you are, or the one that supports you and encourages you no matter how poor the shot?
I don’t care says someone, so long as I hit great shots I’ll put up with either. Fair enough. Which one do you think will help you enjoy your game? Which one will help you towards a stroke lying ill in bed feeling miserable and no-one coming to visit because you don’t even like yourself, let alone anyone else?
Extreme? Sadly no. Go find the most miserable-faced player in your local club and ask them which station they tune into.
Earlier, we looked at the 5 levels of Influence. Now, where would you like to be with yourself?
Most likely level 3, 4 or 5
I’ll guess that this is one level beyond your current level.
I recommend that you seek professional help. I don’t mean a psychiatrist – I mean a coach. If you are at level 1, chances are very high that there is no-one in your life currently at level 4 – i.e. no-one that you respect for how they have developed you as an individual. This is the person you want as a coach ideally. Short of that, ask around – or get onto our website, we’ll happily point you to someone we’ve worked with in the past who might be suitable.
Golfers: You could start with your instructor,or your regular playing partners. Tell them to help you push yourself. It’s amazing once you start to get the results you want – then you’ll respect yourself for it and rely less and less on others influencing you.
Leaders: Ask your boss! Yeah shocking revelation there. Your colleagues. That guy in sales you don’t really like buy boy does he get results.
This, I believe, is about the love to learn for the sake of it. You can start with learning something you have thought till now as being ‘impossible’. For golfers: Right-handed players learning to play left-handed. Shoot targets. Play games like ‘bag grab’. Best of all, start someone new on golf – help them learn.
For leaders: Take on a new project in an area that you know little, or nothing about. Or, simply choose one of your staff and mentor them.
I believe that this is when you find yourself and what you really really believe in. It’s a higher calling, beyond self. It is, for me, ridding myself of the self-righteousness, the ego if you will and knowing that you have a purpose in this life. When I get there, well you will know probably before I do.
There are other aspects of influence in this life , business and golf. It is not entirely self-focused.
The way we behave, the way we play, the confidence that we exude, the way we allow our character to come out – all of these have an influence on those around us.
Sure, influencing skills are important. And I recommend that you start with the influence skills of persuasion.
I help people unlock their talent, unstuck their potential and unleash their own (and their team's) performance through behavioural neuroscience based coaching and mentoring. Most whip smart independent contributors, technical specialists and managers get frustrated trying to be heard and understood by their business leaders and they lack enough time and inclination to develop the skills they need to move into management and leadership positions. Proven systems. A personal coach and mentor. I combine time-tested systems, behavioural neuroscience and psychology research and practical tools with the accountability and guidance of a 1:1 coach and mentor to UnLock your Talent, UnStuck Your Potential and UnLeash Your Performance.
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