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Turning Choking Into Winning

“Success depends almost entirely on how effectively you learn to manage the game’s two ultimate adversaries: the course and yourself.”

– Jack Nicklaus

I was working with a golfer a few years ago who had asked me to help him with a certain aspect of his game.

He was known as someone who would play great when it didn’t really matter – but someone who would ‘choke’ in pressure situations.

It had got to the stage where it was really bothering him and making his game worse.

We did some ‘inner work’ around helping him manage his emotions and state better. And it worked.

At a key competition shortly afterwards, it looked like he was going to fold under pressure when he turned things around and won in style, showing real resilience and grit in the process.

What became clear as we worked together over a few months was that there were 3 key areas to focus on when it came to his mental performance:

1. Pre-shot routine

2. Walking in between shots

3. Off the course

He was a very talented golfer who had a pretty good pre-shot routine but the problem was what he was doing in the other two parts – it was intensely negative. And he had created some very negative inner habits including poor self-talk, negative imagery and recalling his bad moments.

What you think about when you’re not taking shots, and what you’re thinking when you’re away from the game are vital.

And I believe that analogy holds true in any aspect of leadership and life.

What we say to ourselves, what we focus on, creates many of our problems or indeed, solutions.

We might be fine taking shots (a meeting, a call, a presentation/pitch) but what are we saying to ourselves when we’re not? Because ultimately, it will add up and impact on your game.

What are you saying to yourself about key areas?

Are you seeing the ball go into the water (negative outcome) or onto the green by the hole (positive outcome)?

Are you playing fearful images of the future or bad memories from the past? Or positive possibilities for the future or great memories from the past?

A thought given attention, creates an experience inside yourself. That experience creates a reality. But it all started with a thought…

So why can’t you pick a better thought?

What most people don’t realise is that all real high performance starts and ends with the kind of thoughts you’re thinking. And you can change them by becoming more aware of what they are.

Maybe this week you can experiment a little more consciously with the thoughts you’re giving attention to.



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