In the New Oxford Dictionary, the word commitment is defined as “the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, etc.” In our daily lives, we are required to commit to many things – jobs, people, tasks, and the like.
At some point, most of us realize that commitment is essential to achieving success at any level, in any endeavor. Once we accept this, most of us then work to acquire and hone the skills necessary to become expert within some arena.
(Ok, maybe not an ‘expert’ but pretty darn good at something!)
Some of us make the decision to invest significant time developing a chosen skill or craft in a systematic and purposeful way. However, many of people confuse mindless repetition with skill development.
Autopilot is awesome – for airplanes.
In other words, just because you hit balls at the range doesn’t mean that your golf game is improving. Just because you’ve been in your position in the company for 10 years, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve gotten better at doing your job.
Author James Clear has some interesting things to say about this. First, we need to understand that the natural tendency of the human brain is to transform repeated behaviors into automatic habits. The more we repeat a task, the more mindless it becomes.
Autopilot works just fine for many things we do each day. Tying our shoes, showering, making the morning coffee. For other tasks, not so much.
Golf is no exception. It’s actually the perfect platform for seeing how commitment to improved performance can pay off.
If you’re already a golfer, you know that commitment is a key component in producing solid golf shots. We must commit to every aspect of the shot making process if we expect desirable outcomes.
Being deliberate. It matters.
A few weeks ago as I was cleaning up from an afternoon of lessons, I chatted with a club member. He’s a low handicap golfer. Over the years, I’ve heard many members explain away his solid golf game, often attributing it to natural athleticism.
I asked him about his practice regimen. How many hours per week? How much on full swing? How much time on short game? How many rounds per week?
The golfer’s response?
“Lots of people around here don’t think I practice much because they don’t see me out on the range bashing balls for hours at a time. I practice in a very focused way for smaller bursts of time. When I practice, I’m paying attention to everything that’s going on with my stroke production, not just where the ball is going.”
Interestingly, his responses correlate to those identified in people who have been successful in developing high levels of skill. (And not just in golf.)
The enemy lurking among us.
“Mindless activity is the enemy of deliberate practice. The danger of practicing the same thing again and again is that progress becomes assumed. Too often, we assume we are getting better because we are gaining experience. In reality, we are merely reinforcing our current habits – not improving them.”
Most of us can’t commit time to our golf game like Mr. Hogan was able to do. However, that doesn’t mean that we can’t devote a similar level of focus and detail when we are out playing and practicing.
Looking to improve your performance on the course? One of the first steps in doing so is understanding that the quality of what we put into our game is directly related to what we get out!
Have a plan.
When we’re traveling somewhere, we typically have a plan on how to most effectively get from Point A to Point B. We base it on several things – available routes, distance, weather conditions, etc.
If you’re looking to improve your results on the course, consider creating a plan for each shot based on similar factors. Which routes to the hole are most appropriate for you based on your average shot distances? Is it windy? How’s your body feeling today?
Make a concerted effort to determine your plan of action for each shot.
Speak to yourself in the affirmative. Don’t burden your thoughts with the results you don’t want.
Decide on the intended process and outcome of your golf shot and go for it!
Mind your thoughts.
“We are what our thoughts have made us; so take care about what you think. Words are secondary. Thoughts live; they travel far.” -Swami Vivekananda
Our thoughts are a big part of our plans for success. Thoughts do not define our actions, but they can have a great influence upon them. Remain committed to developing a positive, focused thought pattern.
As LPGA Teaching Professional Debbie O’Connell and founder of Golf Positive – would remind us, staying in a good frame of mind makes the entire journey more enjoyable and more successful.
Commit to creating a deliberate mindset for yourself. In no time at all, you’ll be conquering those goals!