The best athletes in the world, including golfers, have a mindset driven by grit. They see failure as an opportunity to learn and are unstoppable in achieving their goals. According to Angela Duckworth, at the University of Pennsylvania and one of the leading researchers on the subject, grit is about having, “a goal you care about so much that it organizes and gives meaning to almost everything you do. And grit is holding steadfast to that goal. Even when you fall down. Even when you screw up. Even when progress toward that goal is halting or slow.” No matter what level of player you aspire to be, your attitude and mindset will ultimately determine whether you achieve your goal or not. The research on grit can help guide the way. Consider the following questions:
- When practicing or playing, and I hit a “poor” shot, am I quick to recover seeing it as an opportunity to learn? Or, do I let my emotions get the best of me convinced I will never get better?
- When practicing or playing do I strive to be the best I can be working hard until the practice session or round is completed? Or, do I take a more conservative and conventional approach to my practice and play, picking my spots to push myself, but determined to “stay the course”?
- Do I set long term goals for development as a golfer and follow through on them? Or, am I more laissez-faire about my development in that I have goals, but I’m not so much concerned about following through as I know I will eventually figure it out?
- When you practice or play, do you set high standards for yourself working hard to master your technique, but at the same time accept the fact that you will never hit every shot perfectly? Or, are you determined to hit every shot perfectly with practice sessions and rounds having been derailed when perfection doesn’t happen?
If you were able to answer in the affirmative to the first question in each of the groupings, you have grit and your chances of achieving your goals have just increased dramatically. If you endorsed the second question in the groupings, grit is not a strong characteristic of your mindset towards golf. However, like any skill, grit can be nurtured. Read the first questions in the groupings again, and begin thinking about ways you can start incorporating those ideas into your game. At minimum, work towards seeing “failure” as an opportunity to learn.