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When we ask this question in our workshops, we are usually met with blank stares at first. I call them ‘blank stares’ because to be looked at as if you are completely off your trolley isn’t something I choose to reinforce.
The first response from that first brave soul suggests that there is no need to influence oneself. Basically, it runs like this: I decide to do something, I tell myself to do it, and I do it. No influence is required. I don’t have to ask myself nicely, or threaten myself with unpleasant consequences, or persuade myself that it will be worthwhile. Really? If we could slow down the thought processes going on, you might think differently.
Let’s take a slightly different approach. I suspect that you have, inside you, at least two ‘voices’ – the pro voice and the con voice. The optimist and the pessimist. The good and the bad. You may have more, you may not consider them as ‘voices’ – that’s OK, I hope that you can work with me on the concept for a little while.
Let’s say that this is two radio stations, 55.5 and 66.6. The first station on 55.5 is supportive – bolstering your ego, always proud of you and your achievements. The second, on 66.6 is the doubter, always casting doubts in your mind, running you down, always suggesting that others are trying to get you, that you should not listen to 55.5, it always lets you down – you never realise the dreams that 55.5 suggests. 66.6 reminds you of the difficulties you had the last time you tried to do this or that. How nothing ever works for you, that it’s all about luck and fate and chance and that you just are not a lucky person. If you buy a lottery ticket, you will always miss by one number at best. That nobody else deserves to win anything either. Basically, this is a bad voice.
I can see some of you nodding your heads as you read this. Don’t worry, you’re not schizophrenic – this is normal, everyone has this going on. Some days it’s like a continuous debate, others, one or both are quiet with little to say. You know you have a problem when you cannot distinguish between the voices and which of you is real.
So, which station do you tune into?
Here’s the two stations output for a few common golfing scenarios…
Approaching the first Tee on competition day:
‘Well, it’s a lovely morning with plenty of gusty breezes to knock your ball off centre, and a touch of rain in the air, but very unpredictable whether it’ll rain now or later. You did some good practice yesterday but you know it’ll all go to pieces today don’t you? You know that you always screw up on the first drive and there’s no mulligans today. See your competition today, wow, that first group were good weren’t they. No chance you’ll keep up with them is there. Still, perhaps you can just enjoy the game for a change and not worry about winning or losing – after all you know you’ll lose, so why get your hopes up? Ridiculous game, I don’t know why you bother, should have stayed home and cut the grass. be more useful than out here, being mocked by your friends… oh no, talking of which, there they are, why do they have to come and watch my first drive. They’ll cough or chatter just as I’m lining up, I know they will. Oh well, my turn now, what a disaster, prepare for the worst and don’t get angry…
First Tee shot: So nicely lined up, but then anyone can put a ball on a tee can’t they. Now settle down, breath, how’s the grip – that instructor why did he have to change my grip, it won’t work. Right align my feet, look up, look down, those people down there, are in my line, why do they have to stand there, don’t they know they could be hit… calm yourself, that’s right, may as well get calm now, because once you hit it there won’t be any calm left, And if you screw up this drive, it’ll all be downhill for the whole day. never recover, so get this right. Wiggle the bum, yes nice, settle, legs bent just right, what if my weight shifts before I strike then hit those people standing there. i wouldn’t mind hitting that smug bastard – he’s such a flash git. Custom clubs, custom balls, bet he cheats, never puts a foot wrong, wipe that smug grin off his face, I’ll show ‘im. Back swing, nice, but is it right, no of course not, arm down, elbow’s bent at the wrong time, as usual, THWACK….. follow-through may as well let go of the club, it’ll go further anyway.
In spite of this, by some divine intervention, the ball soars through the air and lands smack down the middle of the fairway, 220 yards at least beautifully set up for a second onto the green and a possible birdie: Whoa – didn’t know you had it in you. Nice shot, so lucky, you’d never do that again, not in a month of Sundays.
Still, plenty of time to screw up yet…
Sorry, I just can’t write anymore of this – it’s just too depressing. Is this you? And, were you the one who said that they didn’t influence themselves?
55.5 on the same situation…
What a beautiful day, a few gusts, possible rain in the air. Be a good idea to look at the trees as we walk down the course, see where the gusts are going. if it rains, we’ll change clubs and, quick, borrow an umbrella from Jim there, he can pop back and get another from his car. So nice that my friends are here to cheer me on. Great guys. Now I’m going to show them a great drive. I can see it now, smack down the middle of the fairway, perfect for a chip up to the green and a birdie. I can’t wait to pick up that trophy at the end of the day. Good to have some strong competition – nothing better than a real challenge.
First Tee shot: Breath nice and deep, slow my heartbeat and see that drive. A little gusty from left to right over those trees, just align a fraction to the left because this ball’s going to soar above that line. Glove, into the zone. Complete focus, nice alignment, well done, now a beauty practice swing, nice and loose in the shoulders. Firm stance, good lad, check alignment, now trust your swing. THWACK.
In spite of this, by some divine intervention, the ball soars through the air and too far to the left, way over to the left and lands smack down into the rough by the trees, maybe even really in the trees: Beautiful drive, well done, aligned just a little too far left, so we’ll make sure to fix that. I think maybe the wind dropped as well. Nice lay-up for the second shot – I can use that chip techniques I learned from watching Seve on TV, good for a par if I’m really in the rough, and good for a birdie if it’s not too long. Good, well done.
Now, which station do you want to listen to? The one that derides you no matter how great you are, or the one that supports you and encourages you no matter how poor the shot?
“I don’t care” says someone, so long as I hit great shots I’ll put up with either. Fair enough. Which one do you think will help you enjoy your game? Which one will help you towards a stroke lying ill in bed feeling miserable and no-one coming to visit because you don’t even like yourself, let alone anyone else?
Extreme? Sadly no. Go find the most miserable-faced player in your local club and ask them which station they tune into…
What to do?
The single, most powerful way that you can develop the habit of always building yourself up, edifying yourself and listening to the “good” radio station is to be that voice for others.
Yes, you heard me right. Be that voice for others. Edify others. Build them up. Encourage them.
Yes, I know that nobody does it for you. I understand how unfair this is. But do it. Before long, you will find that you are encouraging your own positive self influence. An amazingly, more things begin to go right for you. And the people around you, they like you and they begin, ever so slowly at first, to encourage you back.
Do yourself a favour today. Go to your boss and give them an encouraging word. Not in a creepy, sucking up way, but a genuine, caring and loving way.
Enjoy. And by the way, you are so awesome.