“It wasn’t a miracle that I made it here to the PGA Championship, it was the years of hard work and belief that I could make here, I knew I could compete with these guys. I have failed so many times in golf, and that’s why I am here. I never looked at losing as failing, only that it is golf. Good breaks and bad breaks. Shoot, I am excited to see how I play against the best in the world.”
Boy what a great way to look at something, excited! Of course, I am sure he was nervous, he clearly faced the nerves and moved into just playing the game he loves. Michael Block certainly captured the golf world last week with his, ah shucks attitude, gratitude and humility that golf is a great game, and one he certainly loves. Way to go Michael!
Unfortunately, too many junior golfers look at having a bad shot or a bad round or not winning as failing. I would argue that one should fail early, fail often, learn fast, and develop slow. Trust me, the best in the world Jon Rham does not like hitting bad shots or having a round of golf that is not as good as he would like it to be, but he has learned to accept this as part of being the best. If Rahm made it a habit of telling himself that he cannot fail at hitting this shot, you can only imagine he would be always afraid of pulling the club back or I shouldn’t miss this 4-footer, no one misses those. Maybe this sounds familiar, do you feel afraid of pulling the club back, anxious about where the ball will go? Well, you may be helping yourself by recognizing this now. We are fragile when it comes to the emotions of failing at something. We would rather not try our hardest and fail, it prevents the embarrassment in front of peers or an audience. This way if or when failure happens, we can say, I wasn’t really trying, if we are successful at the intended experience then of course it was easy! No surprise there! We give the easy answer of; I am supposed to make the four-footer! Who misses those!
Failing forward in life is difficult, it hurts, it can leave scars that are hard to get past. However, if we look at failure from a different perspective such as a child learning to walk or learning almost anything, maybe we can overcome our fear of failures. For years, psychologists and neurologists have been studying how kids learn. The evidence suggests when kids are uninterrupted by their parents or supervision while performing tasks they tend to learn faster, with more joy and grow up with less anxiety of failure. Interestingly, it is not until they reach school age and are introduced to teachers and peer review do they begin learning to be anxious of failing or looking bad. What is this saying about how judgment brings about anxiousness and fear?
Turning to golf, couldn’t it be said, golf highlights our sense of judgment which makes learning the game more difficult, especially in juniors. When learning the game, it is common for everyone around a potential junior golfer to give instruction, dads, moms, golf instructors, peers. Somehow everyone becomes the judge of how it is supposed to be done! Now I am not saying this is a bad thing but after the introduction to the game, perhaps the experts should take over? The experts in this case are the kids themselves. Back to the earlier comment, kids are good at figuring things out when left to learn and not being told that what they are doing is wrong or because something didn’t happen. They are the ones broken and need fixing. Kids need to learn how to learn, leave the “judgment” to them, parents and coaches, guide them with better questions for developing good relationships with failing at something , like, how did that feel? Or did you learn anything from that swing or round?
Learning how to play golf is a self- discovery process, it is you, the equipment, the ball and the vague understanding of what might happen when the club connects with the ball. While making attempts at hitting the ball, many failures will take place however without interruption of learning, kids will fail forward in learning how it will happen. Once this is tainted with outside input of instruction, failure is no longer accepted, it should be done “the” right each time. This is the case for adults as well, it is a scary thing to fail at golf when you are successful at other things you do. However, being good at your business or whatever it is you are good at requires many failures. Golf is treated so differently, why? Because it is a game? Probably! It is to be enjoyed, it is to be a great walk or ride, not a 5-hour struggle with judgment of failure! Fail forward by accepting bad shots, bad swings, good swings, and accept golf can be a difficult game. If you understand the components of your struggles, you can work to improve in those areas, if you do not understand where you are in your development, it probably a good time for our 5 Elements of Success Evaluation, let us help educate you to your blind spots and create a plan for you to work on the right things! Fail forward by enjoying your experience of learning at being better not fixed!
Enjoy Your Journey!