It was very interesting to hear a comment made by Masters champion Danny Willett. When asked the question about how he had managed to achieve such a spectacular victory, he talked about not so much having a grand plan to win Majors but that he learned from his father, who is a vicar, a very simple principle to ‘aim to do the right thing every day’.
Many programmes of self-improvement talk about dreaming big, visualising outrageous goals, seeing yourself holding trophies and, to a degree, that is fine. These visions plant a seed in your mind of what may be possible. They create a vision of a potential future but unfortunately for most people it remains just that.
The mind creates a vision of the future; you are going to get your handicap down, you are going to play on the Senior Tour, you are going to play for your county or your country.
And then life happens. You get out of bed and your back is aching, you look out of the window and it is raining, you played awful last time, you just don’t feel like it today.
All of those grand plans and visions seem to fade away and all you can think about is how you want to feel good now. Right here and now.
That is what your mind and my mind does and it is the single biggest reason people look back on their life with regret. They know what they could have been but far too often the mind took over in the moment and they focused on feeling better in that moment.
I am absolutely convinced that success is merely an accumulation of ‘good days’. If you have achieved anything in life it will be because you put in enough good days to contribute to that success. You accumulated good days.
The good days added up and you look back and you see success. Success didn’t happen as a result of a big vision or a grand plan, success happened as a result of putting in good days. Sir David Brailsford, who achieved legendary success in British cycling, has talked about the dangers of getting too involved with outcomes. He said: “It is just emotion, it is just futile.”
The secret is all about ‘what am I going to do to improve today?’ The single most important question you can ask for the future good of your game is ‘what am I going to do today?’
Have that question around the house, have that question on your phone, on the screensaver on your computer. If you ask yourself that question often enough you will move your game forward.
Not to mention your life. You will move your game forwards as a result of actions not just thoughts. It doesn’t always have to be grand plans each day. It may well be that today all you can do for your game is to hit some bunker shots for 15 minutes. Well if that is all you can do today, great. Intend to hit those bunker shots, then go and do it.
Now, how could that make a difference? Well, at some point the work you did today may mean on that crucial 16th hole when you are in a greenside bunker, the splash shot you play out to five feet and the putt you manage to knock in after that keeps your game on track.
Now it will not always be as simple as that but daily actions have long-term consequences. I call this the half-bar principle. You probably enjoy a bar of chocolate as much as I do and it’s only a snack, right? You deserve it. Each day with your tea or coffee…four fingers…well, a four-finger bar of chocolate has approximately 518 calories Lets just say you take the daily action of having two fingers of chocolate and not four. What difference will that possibly make?
Well, actually a lot. Two fingers of chocolate is 259 calories times seven, so that is 1,813 calories a week. That is 94,276 calories a year. Do you think that if you reduced your calorie intake by over 1,800 calories a week it may have some impact on your overall weight? You bet. Small seemingly insignificant daily actions massively add up over the course of a year. Little actions produce big results.