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Archived Newsletters - Perseverance:

Newsletter May 2001
Vol. II, Edition 5

Perseverance
By Joan A. King, C.Ht., PNLP

"Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all." -- Dale Carnegie, Motivational Pioneer

After almost six weeks a winner has been decided and the TV Outback Survivor series has ended. How did the winner stay consistent and focused for 42 days despite physical and mental hardships? How did she persevere when she didn't win any of the immunity challenges along the way?

The analogy to playing golf is obvious. How do you stay in a positive frame of mind when you hit a series of missed shots? How do you keep yourself focused on your game plan when you aren't feeling well, you are distracted, or don't have your "A" game working?

When you are having a "bad day" and feel as if you are acting out a Mission Impossible, decide to take on the mission of using your mental skills to accomplish your winning game strategy.

Some people think you have "to will" yourself to win. We all know those people who want to win at all costs. To be a winner, to be a true champion means to play from your heart…. to be true to your heart's desire. Willing something to happen means you are trying to take control by using effort. The keys to persevering and playing from your heart's desire are:

  1. Stay positive no matter what the results are. How often have you heard someone say after a couple of three-putts or big numbers, "It's just one of those days." This statement presupposes that the results are preordained. By saying so, you reinforce the outcome.
  2. Dig deep to believe in yourself . Remind yourself that you have played well in the past. Remember the great shots and putts. Remember the times you scored well when you didn't hit the ball perfectly and putt flawlessly.
  3. Play one shot at a time. Give each shot 100% intention and attention. Play each shot as if it is the most important shot you will hit that day.
  4. Play for score. Develop the mindset to get the ball into the hole and don't think about how you are hitting the ball. Keep your (scoring) strategy always in your mind and stick to it.
  5. Recover well from missed shots. World class golfers know they are going to miss shots and they know how to recover from their mistakes. Take your time and use good course management. Play percentage shots instead of trying to hit your ultimate best "Tin Cup" shots.
  6. Pay more attention to the home stretch. Are you running toward the goal line, or are you running in the opposite direction? Most tournaments and matches are won or lost on the last few holes. Around the 15th hole, begin to create the momentum to make a great comeback with a low scoring finish. Pay attention to your mental basics; use the same pre-shot routine, breathe to relax your mind and muscles, let go of emotions, and focus on the process of hitting each shot to your target.
  7. Enjoy the game.

In life as well as in golf, we all experience the same happenings. We experience mistakes, disappointments and challenges. Sometimes in spite of our best intentions and efforts, things just seem to fall apart. In the end, the quality of our life and golf game is determined by our choices. When a situation changes, it is time for us to change. It has been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result.

How responsibly you react to a missed golf shot is far more important than the result of the shot. A missed golf shot does not reflect upon you as a person. Your reaction to the missed shot does reflect upon you as a person. Therefore, your greatest challenge then is to control the process of your thinking.

Instead of letting yourself be dragged down by a missed shot or a series of missed shots, choose to re-establish your own personal strategy that will lead you into a positive direction toward success.

When you are having a "bad day" which probably means you don't feel as if you are in control of your mind and/or your golf swing, there are several ways to regain that control. The first is not to think too much about the golf swing. Focus instead on an easy, effortless swing by regaining your timing and tempo. Maintain good balance, being steady and centered over the golf ball. Swing within the limits of your control. For mental control, change all negative thoughts to decisive, confident thoughts. Be decisive in all of your thinking. Know that the club in your hand is the perfect club for that shot. Stay focused in the moment by giving every shot your full attention and intention. Carefully align your body and focus on a small target area. Your mind is the only part of your golf swing over which you have 100% control. Do all of this decisive thinking before you address the ball so your body will be ready to react and enjoy the process of hitting the ball.

To stay ahead of the competition, make up your mind to outplay everyone by mentally outlasting the rest of the field. If you think about the devastation of what one big number can do to your whole score, you will be overwhelmed by the task of reducing your total score. Instead of playing the entire 18 holes at once, break it down by concentrating on three holes at a time. For instance, on the practice range, hit the sequential shots you will use on the first three holes so you are prepared mentally and physically. Then when you go to the first tee, be prepared to give 100% to each shot as if it is the only shot you will hit that day.

"In any process it is important to stay focused in the present and grow from the experiences you will encounter. If you focus on the end result it can make you feel overwhelmed and discouraged and end up sabotaging the process." Harvey Penick

The Circus Elephant

A little boy and his father go to the circus. The little boy sees a full-grown elephant with a rope tied around his leg. At the other end of the rope is a wooden stake driven into the ground. The little boy is amazed that the big elephant doesn't break the rope and pull the stake out of the ground.

The father explains that when the elephant was a baby, his trainers tied a heavy chain around his leg. The other end was tied into an iron stake driven deep into the ground. The baby elephant pulled and tugged many, many times and was finally conditioned to believe he couldn't get away. Now they keep a rope tied to his leg to remind him, and when he feels resistance he stops trying.

If the elephant gave it 100% one more time, he would be free and gone. As human beings we do the same thing. We try and fail. We try and fail. After missing some golf shots and feeling the old emotions of not being successful, we quit. If we were to give every shot 100%, we could accomplish anything.

"If you have made mistakes, even serious ones, there is always another chance for you. What we call failure is not the falling down, but the staying down." --Mary Pickford

To persevere means to strive/make an earnest effort in spite of difficulties. A true champion is one who scores well in the game of golf when they don't have their "A" game.

A champion knows how to persevere and score no matter what swing they have on a certain day. When the day isn't going well and you feel as if you are in the frying pan, that is the time to reach down inside, tell yourself "I CAN DO THIS", and keep yourself from the fire. Develop a mantra such as "Keep on playing" to keep your mind focused and centered on the game.

To be a champion you need to believe in your own power and be fine/comfortable with it. You carry your resources with you. Return to your inner resources and feel at home with them.

*****

"After listening to the 'Confident Putting for Lower Scores' tape for five days, I began to feel a gentle touch on the ball with my putter that I had never experienced before. My handicap has dropped two strokes." Vicki Jones

"In playing in my first US Open qualifier, I shot 71. I was calm and relaxed and I have Joan King's "Self-Hypnosis for Playing in the Zone" tape to thank for that." Al Gielber

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