I Think I Can, I Think I Can…

“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” –Henry Ford

I would like to share an email correspondence about a question I received.  You will find the following helpful in learning to trust the process:

“Michael, I have been using your mental keys* for a while now, and combined with some focused practice, I am beginning to get back to my best playing.  My confidence has returned and I am more focused on the ‘right’ things.  I have a question regarding how to deal with the days when I ‘don’t have it’.

“OK, so here’s the question.  I find that I can be process oriented and accept bad shots most of the time, but when it goes really bad, like the front 9 I just described, I need to find a way to ‘right the ship’ sooner.  I know the answer lies in trusting the process, but the hard cold reality that something funky is going on with your swing makes it very difficult.  It’s impossible to hit solid shots when your head is in front of the ball at impact, and subconsciously, when I know I haven’t found the problem or the cure, trusting the process doesn’t work for me.  I still hit bad shots and it is very hard not to analyze and ‘fix it.’

“I told you once before I am a believer of Napoleon Hill’s ‘whatever the mind of man can conceive, and BELIEVE, it can achieve.’ It’s a catch-22.  When I know something is wrong…and I’m not sure what it is, I can’t ‘believe’…That seems to be the heart of the problem for me.  I have a club championship match tomorrow.  Any suggestions?”

Ted, the answer is to continue in trusting the process.  The process, in this case, is to trust your gut–your subconscious–to come up with the answer for you.  Since you are searching for a mechanical solution while you are playing, time is of the essence.

What you have to do, first, is acknowledge that you need an answer to solve your problem.  Second, you must free your mind of all negative emotions and keep firing away to the best of your ability.  After each shot, if your mind is free of concern about the outcome from a scoring point of view, you will be able to allow your mind to objectively look at the feedback from your last shot.

Your mind will use the feedback to come up with an adjustment for you to make.  Then, fire away again.  Use the feedback to see if “that” was the correct adjustment, or to see what further fine tuning you need to make.  Give your subconscious mind the freedom to fail (experiment).  It will come up with the correct adjustment much sooner if you are not afraid to experiment or if you get frustrated.

Sometimes, you will run out of time before you solve the riddle and have to work it out on the driving range.  Other times, you will solve the riddle after only one or two shots.  It just depends upon how severe the mechanical adjustment is that needs to be made.  Your gut will solve most of your problems very quickly if you allow it the freedom to find a solution without getting emotionally involved in the outcome.

Therefore, it is just another process that you have  to trust.  You have the BELIEVE that your subconscious has the ability to figure things out if you let it do its thing free of all negative emotions.  While you are waiting for this riddle to be solved, by remaining positive, the rest of your game will remain intact.  Otherwise, if you become negative, it will affect your entire game and everything will fall apart.  I hope this helps in time for tomorrow.

“Michael, thanks for taking the time to respond.  You’ve made my day.  I have enough confidence in my knowledge of the game and my abilities that I can ‘believe’ I’ll fix it.  In fact, that’s actually what happened in the round I described to you…without realizing it…I just went through my routine…insured my setup was correct, and used ‘feel’ keys to ‘right the ship’.  At least now I’ll have a process to follow if something goes haywire today.  I’m playing the guy I beat in the finals last year, so I’ll need to be mentally tough.”

Ted, I’m glad I was able to help.  Not that it really matters, but let me know how you do today.  Winning or losing is not the issue.  The issue is, what did you learn today to be better tomorrow?  Winning is the result of doing the process better than your competitor.

“Michael, The good news is, I won my match 4 & 3.  The better news is that I didn’t have my A game today…I was blocking, pulling, and slicing my way around the course…but managed to make a few key birdies, and several scrambling pars, and dropped a few bombs on the putting green.

“Your advice about trusting my subconscious to ‘analyze problems and come up with the answer’ was a key.  I figured out what was wrong, fixing it was a challenge though because it was 2 things…and managed to get through the match.

“Another key thing that I may have mentioned to you previously, is that I have been blessed with the ability to be mentally tough when it’s necessary.  Your TMK,** however, has given me more of a context to recognize what I was doing right…and wrong.  It has actually added to my mental toughness because I am becoming a believer in your mental process and I have something definitive to fall back on.  The more it works, the better it gets…guess my tape is getting reprogrammed…Smile.”

Way to go, Ted!  It’s always good seeing the process pay off.  The thing that is so great about the system is that the mind/body feedback loop puts you in a box.  You just can’t get away with any negativity, especially when you are going for the Gold.  All you have to do is be honest with yourself and make the mental and mechanical adjustments.  But, you have to BELIEVE!

“Mike, I thought I’d let you know how the final match went.  21 holes…and as you can imagine, over that length of time there were many opportunities to ‘test’ your game and your mental approach.  Several ‘if you miss this putt…you will lose the match’, and ‘how will I explain how I lost this match’, and ‘wow, it will be great to be the champ 3 years in a row’.  All the things that affect everyone.  Well, your process was my ‘life preserver’.  I stayed in the present, most of the time, and I dealt with the fear of losing, and I managed to overcome the ‘dips’ that jeopardized my goal and I was the winner on the 21st hole.

“There was one interesting moment that I know you will understand.  Approaching the green on the 20th hole, my opponent said to me, ‘well, no matter what happens, we’ve had a good match, you can’t do much better than extra holes’…I knew immediately that my desire was greater than his.  Extra holes wasn’t the goal for me…winning was.  It’s even similar to one of your examples.  Thought you’d be interested.  ‘Thanks again for all the sound advice.  You’ll start getting some orders from here.  Some of my friends are becoming believers.”

Thanks for the update, Ted.  I used our correspondence to help illustrate that these principles work in combat and are not just wishful thinking.  Many golfers are afraid to let go of the outcome and trust the process.

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