Thinking properly takes time and work

Are you a winner? And I don’t necessarily mean coming first...

IT was fantastic to see one of my clients Michael Hoey winning his second European Tour title in Madeira. Michael is a winner in more ways than one, which I will come back to in a moment. His victory got me thinking about the concept of winning and all of the component parts which make up a successful tour player, sportsman or woman. 
Our brains love the idea of there being an instant fix or a solution to becoming a better player but the facts of the matter are clear, we need to give ourselves time to develop the two key components to a great game. 
That is the ability to control the ball and the ability to control ourselves. We seem to understand it takes some considerable time to learn to control the ball but it amazes me how many people think a couple of sessions and they ‘know’ about the Mind Factor in golf.  
In fact, these days working with lots of younger players, I sometimes feel there is an element of “I have heard that before, now tell me something more interesting!”. 
Yet there is a huge difference between having a conceptual understanding of something and actually doing it!  
I first did some work with Michael about six years ago and it is clear to me he sees his goal in becoming the best he can be. 
He understands there will be weeks when he doesn’t control the ball well, there will be weeks when he doesn’t control himself that well, but those poor weeks don’t mean you suddenly start looking for all sorts of short-term and magical fixes. 
The intellect loves to come up with complexity and it loves the seductive idea there could be some really difficult concept that it hasn’t yet grasped and, when it does, it will be the long-term and everlasting solution to all of the golfing woes a player has ever had.
Many of the clients who have been successful have grasped the concept it is about doing some fairly basic things on a regular basis and realising it will not be a straight line of improvement. There will be ups and downs.
Maybe the concept of winning is perhaps a little bit too simplistic in that we just look to external results. Unfortunately, winning and scoring is not under your control. No matter what you do, as far as I am aware, you are not allowed to physically move an opponent’s ball.  You can influence him, of course, by your play but there is nothing you can actually do to change his score. 
You may or may not win the actual tournament, you may or may not reduce your handicap, but you have done what you set out to do that is within your focus of control.
So, the more we frame winning around the things you can directly influence, then the more we can see the game as being something which evolves and is not just judged by external results.  
• If you aim to control your emotions and you do so for 18 holes, I think that is winning  
• If you aim to carry out your routine on every shot and you do so, then that is winning   
• If you aim to commit to every shot and you do so, then that is winning 

You may or may not win the actual tournament, you may or may not reduce your handicap, but you have done what you set out to do that is within your focus of control. 
To view golf as an opportunity to have multiple wins based on your definition is to set yourself free to play the game. To have one myopic view that is based solely on a number is to restrict the experience of the game and it will, I guarantee, set you on the course for a love-hate relationship with the game which will tilt more towards hate the longer you play. 
If you are a parent or a coach, are you tilting the view of winning down a very narrow alley way?
For a while, with Michael, we worked on a number of personal wins which had not resulted in a tournament win but he has kept on track and kept focusing on what he could do about his own game. On a given week like Madeira, a lot of personal wins resulted in an external win but I can absolutely guarantee nobody will ever win externally every week. 
I remember Michael saying after his first win in Portugal two years ago he realised the concept of winning had sold him a bit short.
The win was great and it was a moment to savour but the real pleasure was to keep looking and learning each day as a golfer and understanding the inevitable ups and downs that go with it. 
A lesson for us all?

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