Following a recent coffee & catch up with a friend which happened to be held at a golf club, we had an impromptu session on the driving range and as Emma was a newcomer to the game, I was very happy to offer a little guidance. I grabbed a couple of clubs from the boot of the car, as things turned out she was in fact left handed and with the impromptu nature of the session I only had right handed golf clubs with me. Emma had a go anyway and while it was clear she would have naturally played left-handed, her comment at the end really stuck with me.
She told me she’d been nervous about being ‘bad’ at golf with a lot of negative beliefs about her sporting ability stemming from childhood but as soon as she knew she’d be using a right-handed club she completely relaxed. The pressure of getting it right had been taken out of her hands and all she could do was her best with the club she had – she took all of her successes at face value and was happy with the progress she made rather than fixating on where she could have done better.
I can certainly relate to this during my early years of competitive golf prior to my coaching career. I had a strong inclination to focus heavily (always!) on what needed fixing or wasn’t right, very often giving myself a bit of a hard time in the process! I thought the only way to succeed was through this cycle of toil and hardship and of trying to make everything perfect. In hindsight this only kept me in a loop of two steps forward, one back, not only did it create an obstacle to improved performance but dramatically impacted the enjoyment of the process.
We often put pressure on ourselves to be perfect and focus on what went or could go wrong rather than what went or could go right. Our stories and beliefs shape our actions so imagine how much more effective we would be if we could let go of the need to be perfect and just enjoy the opportunity to learn and any successes that come along the way.